Sometimes I feel I’m on a strange roller-coaster and you are all joining me in my ups and downs, wondering when this ride will level off. Another widow advised me, before Brian passed away, not to make any decisions or any big changes for a year. I listened, but in the back of my mind I just knew I’d be different, able to do things in my own time and my own way. In some ways, that is probably true, but I am beginning to see the wisdom in her words. She’s lived through many years of the different life that follows losing the person with whom you shared an existence. She probably knows far better than I that time is a great healer and guide through grief, and that your perspective can change from one month to the next, or even one day to the next.
It’s not a big secret that I am an introvert, a person who craves solitude and doesn’t mind quiet. But solitude is quite different than loneliness and quiet doesn’t always mean silence. Unfortunately, filling the loneliness and silence isn’t as easy as it may sound. You can’t just go out with a friend or watch a comedy. It doesn’t work that way because the one you long for the most can’t be replaced with a laugh track or even another person.
I have a lot of trouble sleeping these days. For a while I was okay, falling into deep sleep and waking up rested and ready to go. That was probably because of the chaotic sleep patterns I had while Brian was sick. After he died it was a relief to have uninterrupted sleep and not worry about his comfort and care. That’s all far behind me now, and I find that sleepless nights have returned. The worst has been a period of almost two days with not much more than a wink. The norm is several hours that are restless and sometimes filled with dreams I’d rather not remember. Once in a while my body finally shuts down and I sleep for 10 or 12 hours. I wish for a regular pattern.
Family dinners are nice and I appreciate that I have my parents here to support me. I even enjoy cooking meals and the routine of setting a table and calling everyone to dinner. But they are nowhere near the same as they once were. He’s just gone and that has changed everything. I’ve been out to dinner and it’s great to be waited on and share a meal and good conversation with other people. But it’s not the same. His laughter and jokes aren’t there. And I drive away alone, not wanting to face that he won’t be there when I get home either. Eating out by myself is a new experience and one I should learn to be comfortable with, but I’m not. It has nothing, yet everything, to do with sitting alone. I was part of something and now I’m not. It was taken from me.
I had a normal life. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was good and I liked it. I had a family and a little world to tend to. It was ripped from my hands without my permission. That hits me more often and harder lately. Sometimes it makes me angry and the last words I want to hear from anyone are “things happen for a reason” or “this will make sense someday.” I do understand that we have no control over some circumstances, only our reactions to them, and I have been very fortunate to have lived and enjoyed what I have. But I feel selfish sometimes, wanting to rewind and have what was. If I were to make a big decision now, it might be to run very far away and leave everything familiar behind me, to start over where not a soul knows me or knows what has happened. That could possibly be a wonderfully amazing adventure, but not the smartest decision. Or I might try to reconstruct a very similar and familiar type of life to replace what I had in order to get those feelings back again. That could also be a great adventure, but not a really smart choice.
Instead of running or replacing, I am sitting still and waiting. I’m trying to wait patiently for the time when life will move forward… or maybe just sideways. I have responsibilities, things I need to do and wrap up before I go anywhere or try to do anything new. Then, I need to learn to be on my own. I need to learn to be comfortable coming home without anyone to greet me. I need to know it’s okay to live alone, cook alone, do laundry for one, and be happy without him here.
This is my sweet November of renewal and I have been focusing on gratitude and finding joy in the little and big things that are good in life. There’s a lot there – I haven’t lost everything, that’s for sure, and I don’t want to be grumpy and whine and wallow. This season will no doubt turn out to be a beautiful and transformative one. Time will surely show me that normal isn’t only what I had, but what I will one day have again in a new way.
Waiting for Normal = Joy