I’ve been in kind of a funk the last week or so. It’s not a full on wave of grief. I’m feeling reflective again. I’m not sure if it’s the beautiful weather here or that the spring events are beginning again, a series of events causing me to remember, or perhaps that I’m still doing all this solo. I’m guessing it’s a combination of these things. I’ve been considering how I will lead a fulfilled life as a single person…a new idea for me. I’ve been reflecting that I am who I am today, for the most part, because he died. I’ve been struggling with the gratitude I feel because I do feel like I’m the most authentic me that I have ever been…but I wouldn’t be here without the fact that my husband died.
I never considered the fact that I would be single in my forties. When Dave and I married, I imagined as most people do…that we’d have each other for the duration. Well, we did, but he left a little too early for me. So, here I sit, well over forty, exploring what I want again. I have had a taste of being out there again, but I chose a very safe place/person to start with and am not sure if I really risked too much. The thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been walking this single journey is that are plenty of folks out here living lives they enjoy on their own. Inspired by a friend who really lives his life and enjoys it, I have opened my mind to the fact that single does not have to mean alone or lonely. As I began considering this, I looked around and realized that I was building a life that I am happy with even though I don’t have one of the things that I thought was essential for a happy life…it is really a paradigm shift for me to believe that I can be happy without being someone’s someone. I have for much of my life measured myself by what others think of me, feel for me, and meeting my responsibilities to those others, not by what I my soul desires.
Most of who I am right now is because Dave died. It’s a hard thing to measure though, because really, who knows if I would of done the things I have done if he were still living? I’d like to think I would have still had some of the same ambitions and achievements, but I may not have been pushed outside my comfort zone in the way I have been. I have had to decide on my own who I will be, what is best for my family, and how to survive. I have had to follow my heart without having my heart’s desires affirmed by another person. It is very different for me. Every step I take is all me. I hate it, but am invigorated by it also. Maybe hate is a strong word…I am coming to appreciate it in new ways more and more as time passes. I can truly claim the direction I have gone was through my own ambition and motivation…for better or for worse.
Here’s the really hard thing to reconcile…I have only become this person because he died. Of course, there is the element of how I responded to losing him, but I want to put that aside for a moment. I have courage that I never had before his death. I have a different self-confidence because I have survived losing the man I love so deeply. I am more comfortable in my own skin because he left me here to struggle through on my own, because he knew I could and would do it. I don’t think he knew how I would do it, but he knew I would. I knew I had to do it. So, is it only through the obligation of “must do” that I am who I am? Maybe. It is so weird to be in a place that I am grateful to him for everything he went through so I could be the woman I am today…and yet, I would change it all back in a moment if he could live and be with his children, with all of us again.
I guess it all adds up. Who I was before him, who I was with him, who I was because he loved me and who I am because and since he died accumulates into the woman I am right now. It’s a combination of experiences that I have loved, hated, and survived nonetheless. It is the combination of walking through the darkest moments I have ever known and trusting that there would be a light when I submerged. As I begin to sit in the light again and appreciate the warmth, I wonder who I would have been without the darkness, but just as I can’t know who I would be if he was sitting beside me today, I can’t know who I would be without the darkness. Coming to appreciate the journey is an odd thing…something I never thought possible. As the years pass, as I change, as my children grow and become more of who they will become, I really do appreciate this journey more…because it really does add up…and sometimes, just sometimes, the journey will take us to amazing places we never imagined.