Being widowed, many of the early days were dominated by my loss. Days were sad and I struggled to reach nightfall every day, because I knew I could fall into bed exhausted and relief would come for a few hours. I didn’t have to be anyone to anybody…I just had to get through the night.
The holiday seasons are kind of like those early days, months, even years of widowness. I pray to make it through without losing myself again in the depths of my grief. Well, I’m here to tell you, I survived another holiday season. Was this season what I anticipated? No, not really. I was more apt to tears than I remember being last year. My fuse was a bit shorter than it has been in a long time and I really wasn’t motivated to reach what I perceive to be those holiday social norms. Was the season as hard as the past five have been? No, not really. My tears came, but they left. Anger welled up in me, came out and then passed. Memories also surfaced, but were sweet and realistic. Joy came although it was fleeting and at the end of it all, it was survivable.
So, this week we got back to our schedule and normal days. Shortly before the holidays I went back to work full time again and was a bit trepidatious about how it was all going to work out for us. Going back to this week, I was filled with hope and happy to be there. My life seems to be taking steps toward normality again. Is it the normal I had hoped for? Not really. Is it a normal that I can live with and even thrive in? Probably. I have begun to frame my new reality. In reality, I am a sole parent. In reality, I am no longer anyone’s wife. In reality, I have to handle all the responsibility of my family’s life alone. It is a reality that I sometimes feel suffocated by and other times I am invigorated by it. I learn each day more about myself, my challenges and my strengths. With that little bit of extra stress and sadness that the holidays bring gone, I am again amazed that we survived and again proud of our coping strategies and tools we use to survive. The things that were wearing on me a few weeks ago…like my oven not working, my car needing repair and how will I get the gifts and Christmassy stuff done…are now gone. As these things leave for another year, I am glad they have passed and grateful for the new lessons about myself I learned.
I’m not really one of those that believe time heals all wounds. What I have learned about the passing of time is that it does reveal accomplishments. In the time since my husband’s death, I have accomplished much. From those early days, when getting up and breathing was my main accomplishment until this moment as I sit here with a joyful outlook and am not too stressed about what tomorrow holds for me. The passage of time has given me the strength…or ability to surrender…and I know that I really can handle whatever comes next. I’ve lost my husband and survived for nearly six years without him…this is a miraculous wonder to me…I really didn’t know how I would breathe let alone move toward thriving again.
On these normal days, I am grateful. I am not grateful that I had to take this journey of loss, but I am grateful for the evolving me it reveals everyday.