This weekend is a three day weekend. When Dave was alive, I looked so forward to the long weekends. Hanging out, finishing unfinished things, and just relaxing made the weekends complete respites. We enjoyed each other’s company, had time to do our own thing, and quality family time all in three days off.
Then he died. Three day weekends were torture. All I could see was families doing the things we used to do, couples holding hands, and dads playing with their sons. My vision was filled with what was missing…completely normal I think. It seemed like the weekends would drag on forever. I was miserable. The kids were miserable. Life was miserable…again, completely normal…I think. This went on for years for me.
There were long weekends when I would plan something to keep my mind off my lost love. I would try to do something special with the boys…not even special really…just regular, but through my eyes of misery, it seemed special. It always fell apart. In hindsight, I can see myself trying to “be” happy. I was trying to force it for the kids. It always ended up badly. The three of us were miserable and most times the outings would end in tears.
Then there were the long weekends when I would try to keep myself so busy with housework and tedious chores that I didn’t even acknowledge the long weekend was happening. People always asked what we were doing for the weekend… I’d replay – “oh, is it a long weekend…I hadn’t noticed.” Denial rang clear in my mind as I busied myself, ignored the families, ignored the couples holding hands, and ignored the dads playing with their sons. If I didn’t acknowledge the three day weekend was here perhaps my misery would ease.
I’m not sure when it happened, but the pain of the three day weekends started to subside. I’m not sure if it was because my boys are growing and I’m not constantly exhausted or if it truly is just the passage of time. I know that it helped when I stopped trying to do and be something that I was before he died. I know that it helped when we began to understand and acclimate to a life without their dad and my husband around. As my grief journey continues, I know that each day, each experience I survive, has made me that much more able to deal with the next day, the next experience. It’s time served so to speak…time that I’ve become more capable to deal with my broken, healing heart, time that I’ve come into my own as a sole parent, time the boys have acclimated to only having one parent around….does it just boil down to time?
When I started this journey without him my life looked very different. I had a six month old baby on my hip and my oldest was only six years old. Now, my oldest is nearly in high school and my baby is now a happy school kid (most days). Life changes. I look back and don’t know how I made this far, but I did. I look back and see a life that seems so foreign to me now…and that’s ok.
Life had to change for me to survive. I took slow, most times unsteady steps toward survival. Each step led me to a place where a three day weekend doesn’t rattle me anymore. I even look forward to them. It leads me to a place where I can relax…even if it is just me and the boys. I can watch families, couples, dads and sons enjoy their lives and not loose it…I can even be happy for them. Even better than all that…I can look back on my life with Dave and be happy that I had that too. As much as he helped me be the woman I was to be when he was alive, he has helped me be the woman I am right now. His death forever changed me. His death is woven into the fabric of who I am…not just his death though…it is really his love that did all that. His love helped me become a woman who can love herself…I loved myself enough to survive his death. I loved my kids enough to survive…but loving the kids wasn’t enough for me to become who I am today. Loving them, being loved by him, gave me the courage to love myself. It gave me the courage to sit through long weekends in misery which led to place of appreciation again.
This journey that I didn’t want, that was thrust at me, that is my worst nightmare, has become my journey. No matter how much I would do anything have him here, I don’t think I want to change who I am right now. I want to continue to grow and evolve. The pain, the heartbreak, the grief and sadness were so deep that I am transformed. I wouldn’t be who I am without losing him, our life together, our future. So, so bittersweet.
I sit here this morning looking forward to my days off. I sit here this morning changed yet again. I sit here this morning, grateful…and dare I say it…even cheerful. I am ok with a long weekend. I am ok with a long weekend where I am the only adult on duty in my home. I am ok with playing with my kids alone, doing my own thing for a bit, and then adding some more quality, family time. I think the simple fact that I can say “I’m ok”…is amazing…I never, ever, ever thought that I’d be ok…but I am. Today, for this long weekend…I’m ok.