Wow! It is August already and the last time I hit publish on a post it was June. I’m not exactly sure why I have not been writing as of late. It is not that I don’t think or process anymore. It is not that memories of Jim don’t still bubble up to the surface at expected and unexpected times. It is not that I am strapped for time with too much work. It is not that I don’t read other widow’s blogs and remember what the pain was like when it was new, or anticipate how I will feel at 3 years, 5 years, 10 years out. It is not that I feel like less of a parent now that both kids are busy with their own lives this summer, nor less of a child when both my and Jim’s parents are alive, healthy, and doing well. It is not that I have forsaken the mountains and rivers of Idaho, nor my beloved community of Moscow. I still love to run with the girls, swim with the Chinook Masters, and get out solo or with a buddy on a bike anytime I can. I still grow too much basil, make raspberry pie for Rendezvous, and when the day is finally cool, I bake potatoes and cookies. So, if nothing has really changed, why don’t I feel the compulsion to write about it?
Almost 2 years ago, I wrote about why I write. Writing in those days was necessary. I was having a really hard time with all the changes that had occurred in my life, and probably even a harder time with things that weren’t changing rapidly enough. My head and heart fluctuated between extreme pain, and excruciating tedium. I wrote to help me process, I published to have an audience, hear other’s stories and to tell my story. Though I knew that what I was going through was not unique, that surviving the death of a spouse was a universal experience unless you were lucky enough to die first, I felt like my writing was helping me, and perhaps might help another who was struggling with a similar pain. Writing was a way for me to express my angst at being left behind, and it was also a way for me to express my incredible joy for the gift of my ongoing life. Grief, at least in the more acute phases, is a manic-depressive state.
So, what has changed? I guess it may be more accurate to ask what has not changed. The one thing I have really learned over the last year, is that life is ALWAYS changing. Relationships that seemed rock solid have fallen apart. New relationships form and love grows. People move for a better job. Kids leave for college, and sometimes they, or at least their stuff, returns home. The best masters runner on the Palouse falls off a ladder and breaks his neck. New trails get built on the mountain, and older ones get overgrown if not maintained. People my age die in freak accidents, or after a long struggle with cancer. Older folks slowly give up paid work, yard work, driving, their own homes. Babies are born, they grow, they learn to walk, talk, and sometimes they die. How have I changed? While I still love to raft and bike, I’m also falling in love with a horse and bought my first fly rod. Though I love my community, I am embracing the peace and quiet of days and sunsets that are away from my house in Moscow. Though live music and dancing still make me giddy, I am growing in a relationship that makes me happy, and deeply content.
I’m not writing as much anymore. Life is changing, and that change no longer feels like a manic-depressive affair. Change happens, and I feel like embracing whatever new comes my way. Tedium has been replaced with quiet peace, angst has been replaced with a slow, smoldering sadness. What has not gone away, what has not changed, is the joy I feel at this gift of life and love. Joy, too, is a universal experience.