In the past 30 days, we’ve had a birthday party/ family reunion, visits with friends, Sarah’s sister in town for a few days, Shelby’s best friend at the house after school for five days, a fall festival, halloween costume prep and decorations, dress fittings, tuxedo fittings, counseling appointments, extremely busy days at my work, extremely busy days with Sarah’s work, loads of homework for Shelby, Sarah’s birthday, concerts, trips to grandparents’, airport pickups, and all of the other general day-to-day minutia.
Vegetable harvesting, clothes washing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, dog walking, dish washing, dinner making and such all need to happen at least a few days a week. Somewhere in all of it, at least a few hours of sleep need to happen.
In the next 30 days, we have my birthday, a trip to a haunted house with one of our other widowed friends, Halloween (our favorite holiday), tuxedo pickup, a wedding rehearsal, the wedding itself, my parents’ anniversary, a trip to Canada for Camp Widow, Shelby’s 5K run, and best of all, the 3 year anniversary of Megan’s death.
This is actually the first time that I’ve considered the fact that soon I’m hitting 3 years since Megan died. It has been so busy, so rapid fire, that I’ve barely thought about it. As I said last week, writing here grants me some time to sit back, take stock of life, and be mindful of the dusty old archives of my brain that are often overshadowed by the present pace of existence.
Last year, and the year before that, and for at least half a decade prior, all of this activity would have beaten me down. My stress would have been astronomical, and I would just be grumpy about everything, no matter how fun it would outwardly seem it should be. I would have felt inner guilt about it, sure, but it would be far too easy for me to lash out and dwell on “look at how busy I am”, giving me some crazy excuse to be a curmudgeon.
That’s not the case, this year. At least, it hasn’t surfaced that I can see. I had fun at the family reunion, visiting friends, seeing Shelby with her best friend,, Sarah’s birthday, and the concert we went to. The daily chores and my job are just things that need to happen. I am beyond honored to be a part of my brother-in-law’s wedding, and even more proud of the fact that Shelby is a bridesmaid, standing in “Megan’s spot”. I’m EXCITED about my birthday, for the first time in years. My main request on that day has seemingly always been “let’s stay home and do nothing” as far back as I can remember. This year, I want to go out. I want to catch a haunted house and be sociable.
Busy days at work are just work. I’m becoming very embracing to this whole “work-life balance” thing I’ve heard about. I’m not glued to my phone, waiting for an email at 10:00 PM to tell me a server is down or that someone’s password needs to be reset. Give me 15 quiet minutes at home after work (maybe adding a cold beer on an exceptionally busy day), and I’ve wound down from it all and mothballed it until the next morning.
I’m not sure when this began to change. I just know that I’m actually noticing the change now. I don’t feel “broken” or “downtrodden” by life. I’m becoming better at compartmentalizing all of the different subjects that surround me, and not letting the stress of one of them overflow into one that should be a happy or calming subject.
It could be time. It could be counseling. It could be a greater self-awareness, or it could be just plain age mellowing me out. It could be having Sarah’s calming presence or Shelby’s extremely busted give-a-damn rubbing off on me. It might be a 20 minute walk in the woods, a soak in the hot tub, or a cold beer after work on the couch. It may be one of those things, some of them, or all of them. The point is, it all seems to be a positive feedback loop. Taking stock of all of the rapid fire life that is happening, and noticing that I’m not freaking the hell out or running away from it is actually making it easier to, well, not freak the hell out. Knowing that the three year anniversary of Megan’s last breath is impending doesn’t make today worse. Today I GET to crawl under Sarah’s car to take a look at a repair that may be needed. I LIKE working on cars...always have. Why does the fact that Megan is dead make that any less enjoyable? This weekend, I GET to go to a haunted house, rather than HAVE to. Why should this busy week at work make that sentiment change?
I don’t know, and it’s the first time in a long time that I can’t find an excuse to avoid enjoying myself. The phrases, “too tired”, “too busy”, “widow card”, or simply “don’t want to” are consciously missing from my common repertoire of reasons. I like it. I like being aware. I like not knowing when the shift started to occur.
Mostly, I like knowing that I can operate happily at a rapid fire pace, as I once did.