One of the hardest struggles I’ve found about widowhood is the fact that the life you had before pretty much dies with your spouse…well, at least mine did. The hopes, dreams and plans that we made as a couple were buried with my husband. Every morsel of my being was changed because he is no longer here for me to love or be loved by him. At first his vacancy left the obvious holes; no more him, no more seeing, smelling, holding, or sharing with him. As time passed more holes appeared, no one to help with the kids, no one to help with the house and no one to talk to in the intimate way I could talk to him. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely alone. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the weight of loneliness like this.
Then comes my life, my hopes, and my dreams. All obliterated. In the years prior to his illness, we were really coming into a solid comfort zone in life. We were happy with our jobs, our family life, and our marriage. We were married for a good chunk of time and had been together for nearly 14 years. We knew each other and miraculously were still happy with the each other. We appreciated who we had become. We were looking forward to a family becoming one member larger and the joys that come with raising our two boys.
So, he dies. I’m still here. I am left to walk the earth without him and to carry on the plan. Carry on the plan…carry on the plan…carry on the plan?
It took me several years to realize that I could not carry on our plan alone. I think it’s taken me several more to come to grips with the fact that I need to create new plans. I need to dream and hope without him. I don’t like this and have only gone this direction kicking and screaming for my old dreams, my old hopes, my old life. My future has been a very difficult thing for me to let go by the wayside. I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do all this again. I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do this alone. I don’t think it’s fair that I am left with my hopes and dreams shattered in pieces on the floor.
Well, I also know that life is not fair. Life is a gift and a struggle. Life is not to be taken for granted or spent without meaning. All these factors propel me into my new future. All these factors give me strength to dream new dreams and hope new hopes and reshape my life into something I can live with and hopefully thrive in day after day. The problem is that the struggle is hard…some days, some weeks, some months are just too much for me to handle. These times leave me wondering why? Why try again? Why move on? Why reinvent, re-imagine when so many of these days I only end up exhausted and overwhelmed?
The only answer I can ever come up with is…drum roll please…there is no other way for me. I yearn for joy, I yearn to be someone my boys will look up to each day, I yearn to love and be loved. Every day that I remember this, I build strength for another day. Every overwhelming moment at a time that I remember how much faith my husband had in me to carry on without him I feel honored. Every time I feel that warmth of his love flow through me, that moment when I know I didn’t give up, I become revived a bit more. I am revived and strengthened for another moment. I am revived and even given courage to take on my new dreams, my new hopes, no matter how much struggling lies before me.
So today, I will dream a bit and hope a bit. Every day I will try a bit more. With each passing day, I will realize that I have begun the new dreams, the new hopes, the new life that carries his love within me. This new life may exist without him holding my hand, but it will never exist without him holding my heart. It will be a fusion of old and new. It will be a mix of what we wanted and what I am capable of doing without him. I hope, I dream, I imagine that every day that I have courage to be and to live brings me one day closer to me, reinvented.