Sometimes, you don’t make decisions. Sometimes, decisions are just made for you. Like that time my husband died. I definitely didn’t decide that. And as a result, a cascade of other decisions I didn’t make happened.
I just had no choice in the matter. All the things you do in life, day-to-day or long term, doing any of those things without the person you expected to be there is not a choice. And on top of that, I had to decide things I didn’t want to decide because he wasn’t here to shoulder the burden, chime in, or provide alternatives.
But a lot of it, as I said, ends up being non-decisions. Or maybe, lack-of-decision decisions. Not making a decision is a decision unto itself. Not making radical changes, just staying status-quo, might feel like it wasn’t a choice when it is. But more like one that happened to me rather than one I consciously opted for.
In the four and a half years since Mike’s death, I’ve stayed where we had been planted. I felt paralyzed. It took a couple of years before I started to regain the feeling in my limbs, and longer still to learn how to use them again.
The past year I did make some conscious decisions. A big one was going back to school. It made me feel empowered, that I was still a viable person who had something to give. That I wasn’t too old to learn more, to do something more. Doing that took some chutzpah, let me tell you, when you’re staring 50 in the face. Not only do I feel more weary from the years and the grief, but I’m having to be out there competing with much younger people.
On the other hand, staring 50 in the face is a good swat on the behind too. Get on with it, girlfriend. Do something, and do it now, because who knows how long you have? What do you want to be able to look back on in your life? Do you wonder about any regrets Mike had about his life? What if he had known he only had until 59?
Well, Mike lived a pretty full and magical life. And maybe more like nine of them. I may not come close to some of the things he did, but I can have my own things. It’s just that I feel like any lingering magic that rubbed off him is all but gone. I have to make my own magic, and it feels really, really hard to do by myself.
Making magic starts with making decisions. How and what to think, one’s mindset, is a necessary jumping off point and if that’s not in a good place, creating a positive vision becomes very challenging. When you’ve been dealing with grief for so long…and after so long, found yourself living in a stagnant, spinning limbo…you’re tired. Things can seem black. It takes a lot of vinegar to shake it off enough to get out there and do what you know you should, or at least could, do.
Then come the feelings of guilt. Of lack of self-confidence. You’re out of practice, flinging yourself about the big wide world thinking about things like new careers. You know you could do better, but the drive is stuck in low gear. Too many unsettled things floating around, like where to live (when your house is being auctioned), how to best care for family, pets and friends, how to work my new business, how I will find that path I so crave, of peace and fulfillment in this life.
I know, there might never be that feeling again, that kind of peace and fulfillment I knew when I had Mike. I probably just have to get used to that idea…though I don’t think I can ever really do that either.
Widowed people know never to suggest that anyone “get over it.” That will never happen. Do we get through it though? Somehow we do, but we’re never quite sure how. Do we move forward? Yes, even though we might not want to.
I feel angry by the decisions I didn’t make, and angry at the ones I have to make. Though even as I type this, I know I should consider myself fortunate enough to have any options at all.