As I write this blog post, I am preparing for a 10 day, silent retreat at a women's Buddhist retreat centre a few hours south of my home. I will be offline and encouraged to set aside all reading and writing devices for the entire retreat. The thought of this, I must admit, is a bit terrifying. I am well acquainted with being on my own and not talking much. I prefer silence to idle chatter. However, I do not go anywhere without a book or two, a magazine, my journal, and various pens and writing implements.
Writing and reading are my coping tools. I have used them since I was a child. I remember waiting with anticipation for the bookmobile to come around my neighbourhood in the summer. I learned to read when I was five years old, and from that young age, I consumed books like candy. They helped me learn about families and worlds far beyond my own, and I was soothed by the notion that other children struggled with issues and overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, too.
And so just like that... I am about to put in an application on a rental house in Ohio. What? How the hell did this happen? It was only weeks ago that Mike and I sat down and had a serious talk about the idea of me moving up there... if I did, how would we do this? I decided, after having lived with Drew's parents since he died, I need to get a place of my own again and establish myself. It's the only way that feels right to me... moving in with Mike and his daughter would be too rushed right now.
Immediately when I thought about it – my fear began to subside and my excitement grew. To have my own place again... something I have yearned for so much since he died and I moved here. To be close to Mike, and also within a day's drive of my sister, my extended family, and many of my widowed friends I have met these past three years. No doubt, this is a good and positive new direction. No doubt this is the direction I am being pulled towards. So after that talk, I started to look for small rental houses casually... with the notion that I would actually move sometime next year, perhaps summer.
Well, the universe really doesn't like to fuck around. I should know this by now. Instead of the gentle ushering from here and moving there, it dropped a big ass grenade of NEW in front of me. There on my computer screen, the perfect housing situation pops up... one that was so good I could not resist calling on it. And now I am left with making a very big decision that I was in no way prepared to make (or so I thought)...
A few days ago I was chatting to a good friend of mine who recently lost a friend to cancer. This young man fought a long, hard battle, and left behind a huge community of friends and family who were missing him very much - including his newly-wedded wife.
My friend told me about the steps she’d been taking to reach out to the young widow and asked if I had any suggestions on how she could be supportive during this difficult time.
As we talked about my experience of losing Dan to depression six weeks after our own wedding, my friend started crying.
She explained that she was upset for me; for her friend’s wife; and also for herself because the thought of her own husband dying just made her so sad that she couldn’t bear to imagine how she’d cope.
My first instinct was to say ‘its ok, it probably won’t happen to you’… but then I realised that I really didn’t know that.
I mean, if anyone had of told me that my husband would suddenly take his life I would never have believed it. I just didn’t think it was a possibility and thought we were way too young to consider how I’d go on without him. So I couldn’t, in all fairness, assure my friend she’d never face the loss of her husband.