Today marks two years since the world turned upside down, since that horrible day I came home from work to find Elaine dead on the floor.
The first year was a nightmare, figuratively and often literally. The second year was better, mainly because it couldn't be worse than the first. Healing started, life started rebuilding.
Life used to be so consistent for me. I knew that I would come home from work and be greeted with a hug, kiss, and a good dinner. I knew that every holiday Elaine would be up all night cooking more food than we needed and wear herself out. I knew that each year on her birthday she would want to go to Las Vegas. I knew that I would try to talk her out of it because I didn't want to be in the Mojave desert in August. I knew that we would go anyway. I knew that every day I worked I would call her just to say hi, I love you. I knew that I better not do it between 3 and 4 because she didn't like being interrupted during Dr. Phil.
Now, the only constant in my life is change. In the last two years, I've had three addresses. I've gone from married to widowed to engaged. (Yes, I'm engaged, more on that later.) I find changes in myself for no apparent reason. The colors I prefer, the food I like, mundane things like that have changed.
I've learned who my friends are. And aren't. I've learned to be grateful that the are list far outweighs the aren't list. I've learned that a funeral is where everyone you know comes out to support you, then you go home alone to an empty house. I've been forced to learn who I am. I used to be Alan and Elaine. Now it's just Alan. Most important, I've learned what really matters in life. I guess I always knew, but it's more apparent now. Most people would be excited to get a big pile of money. The day the life insurance came, I was actually having a good day until I got the mail. That was not a fair trade. My loving wife, the life we had together, for a big check. I cried over that, and it wasn't tears of joy.
I wanted to fast forward through March this year. My grandmother died in March. My mother died in March Elaine died in March. I want to go to bed on the last day of February, hit fast forward, and wake up April 1. But that wil never happen, so I have to feel the pain. I think the pain has to be felt in order to move on, there is no quick and easy remedy, and we can numb ourselves only to postpone the pain.
I have had to learn how to live alone, for the first time since 1975. Look around in the grocery store, you can't buy one bar of soap or one roll of toilet paper. So I'm set for the next couple years. I still have a hard time with that feeling of waking up in the morning, and not talking until I get to work, or on the days I don't work, until I go out of the house, and that may not be until the afternoon.
I can't think of a rock bottom that is lower than widowhood. When you hit rock bottom, you have three choices: 1. Start digging 2. Stay there. 3. Climb out. I knew that it would be too easy to fall into self-destructive behaviors and dig myself in even deeper, and refused to do that. Staying there also wasn't an option, because it was too miserable. So I was left with climbing out of the pit. Widowed Village and Camp Widow played big roles in helping me climb out of the pit. I don't know where I'd be without the widows I've met. Climbing out of the pit is not easy, but it has to be done. The simple things in life are not so simple any more, it takes an effort just to live. What used to come as naturally as breathing now take effort. But I have to make that effort in order to live.
So yes, I did meet a wonderful lady that I love dearly who is good for me and to me, and we are getting married. When I first lost Elaine, I thought it would never happen because there aren't many straight single women close to my age (58 at the time) who aren't psycho and most of the widows that I know weren't interested in a relationship (please don't take offense ladies, I know now that I was wrong.) Many people that I know think that because I'm engaged that means that I'm 100% healed, that everything is great now, and that included my bride to be. I say included, because she's more understanding now. It's hard for others to understand that pain and love can coexist in the same heart at the same time. Nobody really understands this widowhood thing unless they've been through it. Not that I resent anyone for that, there was a time I didn't understand and I wish I still didn't. I carry an air of sadness everywhere with me, and probably will for the rest of my life. Just as physical wounds heal but leave scars, the wound on my soul may heal, but leaves a scar.
Many widows feel that they will never get married again. I'm not telling anyone what's right or wrong, I only know what's right for me. I came to the realization that the reason I hurt so much is because the love that Elaine and I shared was greater than the pain. That means that the pain is worth it as the price I paid for having a wonderful life with her, and that realization made me feel that it was worth taking the plunge again. It does scare me to think that I am setting myself up for the potential of knowing the same pain again, but I think that the chance of having a good life again outweighs the risks.
There was a time that loud music helped drown out the constant negative thoughts racing through my mind. George Thorogood got me through some very dark times. That seems to have stopped most of the time. I think that widow brain has gone away, then I wonder why the orange juice spilled all over as soon as I poured it in the cup, then after too long a time realized that's what happens when there's a lid on the cup. I am able to think about Elaine and smile rather than break down in tears every time. While there's not a waking hour that goes by that I don't think about her, I can be comforted by the good-no, wonderful-times we had. The crying still happens but it doesn't consume me. I don't have a constant headache like I did. I can sort of sleep without medication now. Horrible nightmares are now merely disturbing, and weekly rather than nightly. My life is being rebuilt. It's not perfect, the world is still upside down. I'm learning to live in an upside down world.