I was sitting on the couch at my parents' house in Virginia this week thinking about Mike. Just wondering how things would be different for me now were he still alive. Imagining him sitting next to me, trying to recapture the feeling of being in the presence of his energy.
So much changes for us in widowhood. Surely the hardest is losing that person we shared so much with; the person we relied on, the person we laughed with, and cried with. But after that comes all the life changes. The different daily routines. The different decisions that have to be made.
None of these adjustments are fun. But as my stepdaughters and I have discussed so many times now, we gradually learn to develop an appreciation for the strength we discover without him. We begin to find value for the person we are forced to become, and we find new ways to take pleasure in this life.
That takes a long time. Maybe like learning to live without a limb. Recently one of the commenters on my blog said she was only a few months into her experience, and my heart went out to her, because that was such a dark time for me. The first year is the absolute worst. Even the second year was pretty horrible. It wasn't until I was into my third year when I began to notice myself branching off and growing in new ways. And this fourth year has been transformational in a way I never expected. Not easy, but transformational.
Sometimes we make conscious decisions to make changes. Sometimes we have no choice. Widowhood is one of those choiceless events that sends us down the road we never wanted to travel. But once we are on it, eventually, if we keep paying attention, surprising new avenues begin to appear. We might even stumble upon conscious choices we can make. They aren't always easy either, but it can feel a little like taking our power back, somehow. That we aren't always just sitting ducks waiting to be knocked down by the whims of the Universe.
It goes without saying that I miss him every moment of every day, right? And it goes without saying that I'd take him back in an instant, right? But that is not a choice I have.
So, I keep plodding along the path that I do have. Ok, well, maybe plodding isn't the best word anymore. What I want to remember about Mike, one of his best qualities I bear in mind, was his lust for life. His unquestionable joy simply at being alive. He had suffered his own dark days, and when I got him, he wanted so much to be happy, to love me, to love his daughters, and live a beautiful life as much as he could. He got that wish, in the move to Hawaii early in our marriage. Though it wasn't always easy, it was often beautiful, and he got to laugh, love and play almost as much as he wanted to.
I now know I will never be able to recapture the certain brand of electric energy I experienced in Mike's presence. I now know I have to find ways to manufacture my own brand. It will never be as flashy and bright as his was, maybe. But I can't bask in his any longer, as much as I miss it.
And when I ponder all the decisions and life changes ahead of me, I don't have him to talk to about it all. I don't even have him to consider. It's all me now. If he were alive I would probably never have gone back to school. I would never be planning a move back to the mainland. I would not be able to be present so much in the care of my parents during this difficult time.
I still have a lot of hard choices and big changes ahead of me. My boyfriend. My dogs. My car. Moving. A new job. A new city. And there is a part of me that will always and forever be in mourning for that lost life, that part of me that will always feel sad. Like a part of my soul is forever blue. But there is another part of me that now wants to walk towards the oranges and yellows. That part of me that looks to the brightness of possibility. I know Mike tried to walk towards that place his whole life.
So that's where I'm going to be headed, with the blue tucked safely into my heart. I have a choice in some things, and I am grateful for that, hard as they may be.