A dear high school friend I had dinner with when I was back in my home town for Christmas told me something that resonated quite deeply. She was making the point after we started talking about what my reality has been like for me the past nearly two years after losing Mike, how my perspective has shifted so enormously, and that I find myself at a crossroads in terms of life decisions. She has a very high powered position with the government and explained that she often has her staff visualize and plan their workload by working backwards from the desired conclusion. Like, here is what the memo should say, so let's then tackle the details that will create that reality.
She said she often thinks of her life in a similar way as her office task list: she imagines a vantage point late in the game and looks backward. What are a few things she will want to have written in that end-of-life memo? It has enabled her to see more clearly what she has wanted to accomplish and has prompted her to go places and do things she might not have considered otherwise.
What happens to us after we're widowed is much the same as what happens to us in life, but with a broken heart - partly the result of things happening to us and partly the result of decisions we make and plans that come to fruition. Sometimes we stumble into things, and sometimes we make things happen. Sometimes we have to make the best of what happens to us - or try to, at least.
I did not expect Mike to die when he did. I guess I didn't expect to meet him in the first place either though. I didn't expect to move to Hawaii. And I surely didn't expect to be faced with all these decisions about my life in my mid 40s.
I didn't expect to meet my new guy either - not at all. I certainly wasn’t looking for anyone. He literally landed on my doorstep. I also didn't expect to be faced with losing my house, and I didn't expect to be faced with all the shifts in other relationships around me since his death. I still feel like I’m often stumbling around in this new reality - the strange new normal we widowed know all too well.
What do I want my life to reflect when I look back (hopefully) years from now? Honestly, it’s such a good question, and I don’t know the answers yet. But it has given me perhaps a practical process, and a good reason, to consider the choices I make with sincerity and depth.
I’m back on island today after yesterday’s long trek across the country. Two plane rides - one across the frozen winterland of our nation’s mid-section, and another across the ocean blue to my little spot here in the land of aloha. Being back in my home town - and now, being back here - has given me quite a lot of perspective and food for thought in terms of where I want to be, and when. My current projects and endeavors are laid out for me, but there is still a lot of work to be done. And today, I’m also facing another big turn of the wheel of time, as a second calendar year peeks into view since Mike died. A second year he will not experience here with me. I know by now I cannot stop these wheels from turning. I know I will be flung into 2015 as surely as I was flung into 2014 and there is nothing I can do about it but keep walking.
I know I’m a work in progress, but maybe I’ve taken a few more steps forward. You can be sure I’ll be working hard on that memo in 2015 and for many years to come.