After Dave died, every change was painful. In those first days, I wanted time to stay frozen. Even better…time would go backward for me and I would land back in his arms. I would wake up and he’d be right there next to me, still healthy, still well. I remember going through his things, feeling like I was violating his privacy, and trying to throw away even a paper receipt would send me reeling. Change was the enemy. Change had been thrust upon me and I wasn’t going to give it anymore…I had already given him up and I couldn’t bear more change.
That was how I felt. Despite these feelings though, throughout my time since him, I have still changed. Imagine that! I have even agreed and chosen change along the way…so odd that one of the things that brought me the most pain, most days…well, I forced myself to do it anyway. When I was frozen in pain, I almost craved change, the very thing that terrified me most. I felt that if I changed, I would be further away from him. I just couldn’t bear that.
Change is inevitable, we know that. I knew that. There was also that sound, grief advice that I had heard through the years, “Don’t make any big, life changes in the first year of your loss.” I always teetered trying to balance this. I craved change hoping it would whisk me away from my pain and always worried I was doing huge damage to my grieving soul and perhaps the grieving souls of my boys. I usually fell a little off balance, landing more toward change. Hell, how bad could the change be…I’ve lost him…I can deal with a bit of a change, right?
Well, within a few months after his death, prompted by a friend, I bought a new home. Soon thereafter, we moved from the home Dave and I had shared for a very long time. It was hard. It was really hard…but I felt the change would do me and the boys good. We would have more space, a yard, well…all the good reasons a family moves for…and it has. I love my home. It was a good change and I think that if I had stayed in our home, believe it or not, healing would have come more slowly because I would have been more successful at freezing time.
In the next year, we had to change schools for my big boy for multiple reasons. We left a community that I had belonged to for many years. I had been a minister there, I had taught in the school there, we went to church there and we were at home there for many years. They loved us through Dave’s illness and supported us in many, many ways. After he died though, things changed. My big boy needed a different learning environment. So we changed. Not everything at first, but within a year or so, we had. We held on to some dear friends, but really didn’t look back. In moving and changing, we found a school community that embraced us even more. Not only did they embrace us, but they wanted what was best for my boy. This community has been a lifeline for me for years. They have truly embraced my crazy and loved me despite of it. Eventually, I began working there bit by bit as my little one grew. They moved me from position to position when they saw an opening that matched my talents, my time and their needs. They inspired me to go back to school for my master’s degree (oh, there’s another change) to officially join the ranks of teaching. This change has healed me and helped me become more of who I am meant to be.
This week I made another change. I am moving to a new school to teach. I have another amazing opportunity. I will become more of who I want to become. I have spent a few days in this new place, with these new people, and am excited for what is ahead and anticipate with joy how I will change. I have the opportunity to teach what I love. It is another life changing step, another step toward thriving again. I am hopeful that this change will do me good too.
Change is inevitable. Many times, I have gone toward it kicking and screaming. Many times, I have embraced it and ended up in a place that surprises me and even more surprising, brings me joy. It is not easy. Every step I take toward thriving again takes me another step further from who I thought I would be. I end up further and further from what I used to picture as my future. That hurts deeply sometimes. I hate moving further away from a time when Dave was here with me.
Change is also filled with magic. It gives me this magical opportunity to recreate, to adjust, to renew and revise myself in ways I never thought possible. Even when it terrifies me, even when the logistics of the change seem like it won’t work, even when I am so exhausted from over processing all possible outcomes…it comes down to that craving again. I crave joy. I crave happiness. I want to be an example to my children of taking risks even if they don’t work out. I want magic in my life. When I embrace new things, new challenges, I am better. I become more of who I want to become.
Eight years ago, I was on my knees begging for God to change what had happened to me. I was so broken. I was so lost. Bit by bit, hour by hour, days grew to months, months to years and what happened to me has indeed changed. The circumstances didn’t change, but I have. It didn’t bring Dave back…which was all that I wanted then…but time has brought me back to life. It may be a life that I don’t recognize some days, but I have carved it out and found my way, one change at a time.
Sometimes, most times, a change will do me good.