The Big Picture

I remember reading somewhere that the second year of widowhood is harder than the first. I could not comprehend that. How could anything be harder than that original sucker punch? How could anything compare to the coldness of my bed, of just needing to be touched so badly that I wanted to crawl out of my skin? How could anything feel worse than those days of screaming at the universe, “I don’t know how to do this!!!!” I’m starting to get it…the novelty has worn off. Remember the post entitled  Tired ? It’s still like that, only I have another year of it under my belt.

Independently tackling home repairs and maintenance has been replaced with the never ending and ever expanding to-do list. Balancing work and play leaves little time for rest, which generally turns into an instant nap if I bother to get horizontal. The joy of raising money for the groover via selling gear on eBay just points out how many, many, many, more piles of gear there still are to deal with.  Learning how to sleep on either side of the bed or upside down doesn’t change the fact that when I wake up in the middle of the night, I am still just one person in a bed that is too big. Now that I have had my health insurance policy for a year, the rates jumped by over 30%, making me glad that I do have a job, but meaning that I yet again have to set a new budget. My early morning run and swim routine keeps me fit and sane, but there is no balancing fat and crazy….which I crave. The fear and trepidation of starting to look online for a partner has been replaced with the dawning awareness that unless I want to remain solo, I will likely have to leave this place and all the people I love. It was hard emotional work deciding which of our family holiday traditions should be eliminated. Now I find myself lacking the energy to build new ones. The challenge of getting gussied up for a holiday party, the joy of gathering and dancing with good friends, being swung around by my merry band of brothers, does not change the fact that at the end of the night, I still go home alone. Wake up alone. Run on the mountain, and make breakfast alone. The novelty has worn off.

And life goes on. People forget. “Oh, you weren’t here last year?”, or a holiday card addressed to Jim and Kathie. Couples that held each other a little closer while Jim was dying, go back to their lives. Some issues are insurmountable. Divorces still happen. Death…and birth, too. Friends take jobs elsewhere, sell their houses. Kids grow up, go away to school, move out. Jasper will be gone soon. I need to figure out what comes next for me. Folks are busy, I mostly act OK. Tears at this point in the “process”, aren’t really expected, and come as a surprise…even to me.

On the mountain today, I noticed a barn falling down that stood useful and full less than 10 years ago. And I recalled the wonder of watching a doe and fawn moments after birth. I know in the big picture, what I am going through is all just the cycle of life. I don’t know what comes next. All I am left with is Jim’s final coherent phrases: “I know”, “This is hard”, “I love you”.

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4 Responses to The Big Picture

  1. There is nothing more isolating than when people go back to their normal lives and you are supposed to as well. You’re no longer given space and time and excuse to be different and need more. More time, more space, more understanding.


  2. cord4530 says:

    Is that Bones as a puppy? What a fabulous picture, that in its own way perfectly captures the cycle of life.

  3. Joan Jones says:

    The strange part of being a survivor is when that no longer defines you for everyone else, but it is still how *you* feel. There’s a certain satisfaction at have outgrown or moved beyond the defining tragedy, but it is still defining you. There’s no schedule for recovery or reintegration to normal society, but everyone assumes there is. I think everyone also assumes that once the tears have (mostly) stopped, life not only resumes but even picks up–pun intended. And much like the rest of recovery, a platitude like “it’ll get better” or “give it time” or “I know how you feel” doesn’t fill the current void. But Kathie, I do know how you feel, and it *will* get better…tick tick tick.

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