Monday, July 15, 2013


Today marks the 7th anniversary of A's death, and it's that number that's probably giving me the most trouble today.  Sure, he's been on my mind more front-and-center (though he's never far from it), and I've been more prone to being farklempt at various moments during the day, because I'm more inclined to allow myself to feel all the feelings I generally push past unless I have no choice, because it doesn't do much good at this point to indulge in them.  And I'm more likely to do memorial things today, which are often the key that opens Fibber McGee's emotional closet where I keep all that stuff.

But what weighs on me, what I can't get over, is that it's been 7 years.  If you'd asked me 7 years ago if 7 years was a short time or a long time, I would've said a very long time.  If I'd filed for bankruptcy when A died, I'd be free and clear now.  Widowhood offers no such clemency.  I got through high school and most of college in 7 years.  It seems like such a vast amount of time; or at least, it used to. 

But now, in this one thing, it seems insignificant.  As I've thought about it as this sadiversary approached, I was often simultaneously impressed with myself for putting myself back together so well over this time, and wondering where the time went.  How did I get here so quickly?  How I went from talking to him multiple times in a single day, every day, to having not heard a single word from him in 2,556 days.  How I swore in those early days I'd never survive this, never be happy again, and (whispered only to myself) didn't want to be, only to still be here, reasonably content with life.  Reasonably, but not entirely; but then again, who is ever entirely content with life?  It's probably too much to ask.

It was a bit of a rough early summer, and I find myself frequently wandering old, well-rutted paths of ennui as I look at my life, and think, "Well, this is all fine and occasionally amusing and delightful, but is it interesting and fulfilling enough to warrant another 40 years of it?  Really?"  I never did manage to come up with a whole bunch of new dreams after he died.  I have no bucket list, and whenever I take two minutes to think about making one, nothing comes to mind. 

Theoretically, I've lived only half my life.  In the first half, I've been born and had chicken pox and measles and a catastrophic accident before I hit puberty that left me half-blind.  I've had and fought with and lost friends.  I've fallen in love a number of times, been married just once and done pretty well at it (knock wood), but we've been on the edge a few times, so I know what that looks like, too.  I have had my heart broken horribly, once by family and once by A when he died.  I've been widowed, and come back to the land of the living.  I've had a bunch of jobs and two careers, and I've already retired.  I've suffered chronic pain for well over a decade.  I have to seriously ask, what's left?  The only things I've missed are having kids (and I wouldn't say I missed it, Bob), being famous, divorce, and terminal illness.  The first two aren't going to happen, and the last two I'm happy to avoid if at all possible.  But if that's all I haven't experienced, if that's all I have to potentially look forward to...sigh. 

I don't know how to stop feeling so old, tired, and, more often than I care for, bored with it.  Often I pull in my focus to only look at things closely, so I can appreciate a random bright red leaf in a muddy brown lane, or a sweet, simple harmony in a song, or the white hairs in E's beard that didn't used to be there.  Like I've had to set my mental camera on life to the little flower setting just so I can enjoy it at all.  It's not that I don't know how to enjoy things; I'm actually pretty good at it.  It's just that sometimes, I feel like I'm just keeping busy in this thing called life just for the sake of keeping busy; there is no sense of purpose, other than what the moment requires because dinner needs to be made, dogs need to be pet, and laundry needs to be folded.  And I don't know if there's some kind of slippery Zen wisdom in such a life, or if I'm doing it wrong.  Thing is, if it's the latter, I don't know how to do it right.  I used to think I was doing it right, and when the bottom fell out of all my various notions and coping mechanisms after A died, I realized that it was just all mere magical thinking.  I didn't know half the things I'd previously thought I was certain about.  And living your life any particular, imagined "right" way may benefit you as you're living it (though there's no guarantee of that, either), but it offers no protection whatsoever when the shit hits the fan, when life hits you so hard you collapse for a long time.

But if I'm doing it wrong, is the wrong in the action or the attitude?  What action must I take to make sure my inner-childlike wonder isn't drowned out by the old, tired, bored widow?  Or, how do I cultivate my natural appreciation of the beautiful minutiae to have more patience and acceptance that truly, this is all I need to do, and there's nothing else to be done, or pondered, or worried about? 

If I could walk away from my penchant for existential musing, that might be a really excellent start.


  1. Turned 40 last year. Know exactly what you’re talking about. Having kids wouldn’t change it. As they grow...and you end up with a hysterectomy (like I did last summer), you just realize how fleeting that part is too! I told my husband last year that, other than grandkids perhaps, we don’t have any “great moments” to look forward to. They are all behind, first jobs, first love, wedding, marriage, first baby...second baby...first Christmas as Santa, first day of school, first home...the backside of this hill of life is definitely less sparkly and wondrous. And with my Greg now gone...five years...I know JUST what you mean about all of it seeming less magical. I describe it as “stark”. And, like you, I don’t let myself think about the grief or the missing as much anymore. I can’t or else I couldn’t function. I barely did for two years and finally just had to stop wallowing in it because it was starting to really change me, forever. I am changed forever by his death. But I can not let my grief overtake me...for my family’s sake. Just know, there is a soon to be 41 year old feeling MUCH the same way as you out here in TN.

    1. Perhaps this is a tough truth all of us learn as we age, and widowhood just exacerbates the feeling?

  2. You wrote something once, years ago, that resonated with me - I used to read it over and over. It was about "moments". It's the moments in life that matter. I don't think you're doing it wrong.

    1. Thanks. Wish I could find that now...maybe it'd help me.

    2. "As I sat there, I realized that at that moment, I was fine. I was living my life, focused on my work, and not feeling down. I was thinking about him, but I wasn’t focused on the loss of him. I was engaged in a hobby that I never would’ve started were A still here; if that isn’t moving forward, I’d like to know what is. I thought about it, and realized that if I had no idea about my past, if I had no conception of the future, and all I had to judge my whole life on was that moment, I’d have to say I had it pretty good. And as I considered that moment, I had an epiphany: I have been going about this life thing all wrong.

      I realized at that moment that we live our lives in moments. Not hours, or days, or years, or decades. Moments. When we think back on our fondest memories, it isn’t “Remember what a great year 1989 was?” No, it’s, “Remember how I almost got crushed at that Duran Duran concert?” It’s the moments we remember. I don’t remember much about the flights out to California to see my A; but I remember the moment I first put my arms around him and felt his strong, muscular back so clearly that my fingers twitch at the memory.

      Moments. Moments are what matter.

      All my life, I’ve tried to figure my life out and plan my future. Even in grief, I’ve tried to do this. I don’t know how many times I have completely overwhelmed myself by asking, “How am I going to get through the rest of my life without him here?” But I don’t have to figure that out (and good thing, too, because I can’t), because I only have to live a moment at a time, and the rest will take care of itself. They years fly by precisely because they are meaningless; what’s important are the moments that they are made of.

      It’s easy enough to say, “Well, you know, that’s kind of the whole Zen thing; all we have is ‘now.’ People have been saying that for ages.” I realize that; I never suppose I am the first to discover any of the truths I manage to stumble upon. However, it is one thing to understand the words a concept, and quite another to truly know it in your bones, and when you finally get something that you’ve heard for years, it’s worth noticing, for I think that is the birth of wisdom. Wisdom, too, arrives in moments. Perhaps all that is required of us, all that has ever been required of us, is to pay attention."

      (I kept this in my email all this time, and have gone back and read it many times. Thank you.)

    3. No, thank YOU! Bless you for finding that and sharing it with me again. It's always nice when you can take advice from yourself. Makes you feel like maybe you've got a grip on things after all. :)

  3. I don't know either, but I'm there with ya and agree 100%.