"No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.
Or you don’t."
I will apologize in advance for my perhaps over-use of metaphor. But I guess that’s just how my mind works, because the other night as I lay in bed thinking about everything, I had a sudden vision of myself as a patchwork doll.
I was thinking about the person I was, and the life I had, before I met Mike. All the places I went, people I knew, things I did. How I used to perceive the world, and my life. Then I drifted into the years I spent with him and how much he changed me - how much I grew and developed during that chapter of my life, knowing him, and being married.
And then now, these past two years, how much I’ve continued to change and grow. To experience, make choices - and adjust to the void he left behind. How much I’ve learned about the grieving process, and myself as my own person. How many people I know now who are walking beside me in our terrible club. How I’ve had to reformulate my perception of this life and my expectations, for how different the future looks now without him.
It does feel as if the person I used to be exploded into a million fragments after he died. For a long time I didn’t know who I was without him, or how I was going to live without him. I didn’t know how I was going to keep walking without him by my side - but slowly I started picking up the pieces. I didn’t realize it at first, of course, because it was only about survival. At first, I only found the basic parts like a beating heart and thinking brain and cobbled them back into a semblance of a working organism, from the inside out, breathing life back into the startled, shattered shell by means of the basest, most animal instinct.
But I have learned to kept my needle and thread handy, along with a healthy heap of duct tape. Now, various and sometimes unexpected shards and innards start to come into focus in the once blurry, desolate terrain that is my Self. Now, I pick them up, determine if they will fit back into the restructured person, and either patch them back in, or toss them into the work bin for later consideration.
There is no pattern to go by any more. I’m just working as I go. Some pieces are stitched together upside down or backwards because there are elements of myself that seem worthy, but are forever changed. A lot of the pieces don’t match anymore; the ends are frayed, and the colors are faded. And strangely enough I found other pieces I forgot were even in there. These seem brand new out-of-the-package, and for now, are in stark contrast to the older, worn but more familiar bits.
When I look at myself from the outside in, I see a person made up of the sum of her experiences. Some pieces are dark and scary, ugly and hard to look at. Others are bright and sparkly and surprise me with their vibrance.
The above quote was posted by my friend and fellow widow Margaret just as I sat down to write this. Perhaps that is no accident. Then afterwards I searched online for images and discovered The Patchwork Girl, who is a character from the Oz series of books by L. Frank Baum. I will have to learn more about Scraps, I guess, because I too am a sort of patchwork person; a rag-tag girl, flopping about this quilt of a life in a strange and undiscovered world.