April. Said with a long inhale and a deeply exhaled sigh of relief, of respite.
It is April and finally I am free of anniversaries and holidays. One month of freedom before our wedding anniversary (no.13) and the second anniversary of Ron’s death. I don’t want to remember what happened in April and do I really have to? I spent the first year after Ron died fine-tooth combing details, organizing events and crises in a timeline, trying to understand what had happened, it happened so fast, and simultaneously reliving the horror and terror. I needed to do that. Now I don’t. My mind doesn’t want to go back there and I feel it recoil if I start to delve into the specific dates and the memories behind them. I think that is okay. I think I am not denying or avoiding it if I have already steeped myself in those memories. I want to let them go. I want to stop remembering the sickness and the pain and bring back the healthy, energetic man I knew to the forefront.
I am in a new place now. For the past 23 months I have been in the only place possible, getting through the minutes, learning to tolerate the minutes and finding that the minutes became hours and even sometimes days that were/are actually okay. I don’t remember how I passed the time during the first few months. I think I just went through the practical motions of taking care of the girls and tried to keep myself from exploding. I am still astounded by the body grief, the fatigue and the physical pain. Grieving hurts. I can remember taking the girls to the pool and not being able to talk to anyone. Just sitting there. I swam sometimes and it felt good to be under water, good to feel my muscles ache. Only the briefest of conversations were possible because my skin was so thin and taut that anything could break my composure and I was holding on with all of my strength, all the time. It was so tiring. My concentration was so scattered, and sometime still, is because it felt like if I let anything or anyone in or stayed too long with a feeling I would be overwhelmed by it. It would/will be unbearable. I needed to keep people at a distance, too, because they might make me feel something and I was struggling to hold onto myself, to control my feelings so couldn't let anyone too close, lest they provoke a feeling I didn't want to have. Of course, that kept possible pleasant interactions at a minimum but keeping in control felt more important than anything else.
I walked the girls to the bus stop in the morning and trudged back home. What did I do while they were in school? I spent a lot of time online writing to other widows. I cooked when I could cook and heated up frozen food or made eggs when I couldn't. When Ron was sick we were brought more food than we could ever eat. After he died the food mostly stopped. Sometimes I wished it would start again but I couldn't ask for help. Now I know, a grieving person does not have the energy or the brain space to reach out for help. I am lucky and have friends and family that did and do reach out but I remember feeling like I just wanted someone to put food on the table for us.
Several months later I started working part-time and from home. I couldn’t face people in an office and I couldn’t leave the girls alone. I couldn’t be without them either because they were my sole focus and purpose and reason for getting out of bed. I couldn’t think of any other reason.
But now I am ready to enter a new place. I suppose it would be more truthful to say that I am almost ready to begin a new phase. I am open to trying, but oh so afraid. A new plan A. I’ve been crawling on bleeding knees to arrive at this place. It was almost revolutionary to be told that just because my first Plan A exploded and imploded in my face didn’t mean I had to move on to a Plan B. We can actually have a second Plan A and while it will be different, it can actually be good. Wow.
But now I find that I need something different. My brain needs to work on things that aren’t about me, it needs some challenges that aren’t about grief. I need to start building my next plan A. I need to occupy my brain with something and interact with other humans. I need to stay with a thought and risk the discomfort, open myself up to other people. I need some stability and routine. I guess I just don’t really trust in the concept of stability because now I know that it is more of a foolish construct. What we think is stable can be destroyed at any time. But I guess that is how we live, with the illusion of stability and of control. I do think that I will benefit from structure and routine and I know I will benefit from a stable income.
Ron was my reward at the end of every day. Now there is no reward, just the end of another day. Looking inward is required if I am going to be able to find something new to reward me. What will I feel proud of? What will be fulfilling? What did Ron give to me to make me feel so much stronger and more protected than I feel alone? What can I do for myself? What makes me tick? What do I need? It was hard to even get to this point because each step that I take feels like a step away from him. But what is my next step?
When I think about Ron as my reward it is hard to untangle him and our lives as a twosome from what I want to feel from my life now. What about the missing him? I have that ache and pressure in my chest that I finally know is sadness trying to be released. It is only notable to mention because it finally isn't a constant physical ache. It was gone for a little while and now it is back and needs attention. Such sadness. It is hard/painful/scary/confusing to figure out my own new life, alone. What about the loneliness? The consuming, eating me alive loneliness? How do I learn to live and feel content alone? I hate being alone. Maybe some day I will meet someone and remarry but I believe that I have to create my own new life before that will be remotely possible.
My brain is starting to understand that the reality is that he is with me no matter what. My heart still struggles with the feeling of moving away from him. He isn't here on this planet. He is wherever I go. We begin and end as stardust and Ron is trail running the stars. He is gleefully jumping, flying, bounding from one star to the next and he is free. I even know what he is wearing : shorts, a capilene t-shirt and hiking boots with dorky dark socks. He is carrying one of his favorite backpacks. He is leaping and scampering like a billy goat. He is radiating light and love and he is free.
What do I need and what must I do to free me?