"The way of progress is neither swift nor easy."
...... is not a word I would've used to describe any part of my "After" in the first few years.
Hell, I was trying too hard to just keep breathing, to just stay alive when I'd really rather not.
Progress? Who gave a damn about progress ...... I was using most of my strength to keep myself from sliding down into the bottom of the deepest, darkest, coldest cave I'd ever experienced ...... knowing that if I slid in too far, I would not return.
Progress? In looking back I can now see that not staying in that cave was indeed, progress.
But it really is only in looking back that that became apparent.
But I have to say that Marie Curie was spot on when she said, "The way of progress is neither swift nor easy."
This thing I call my "After" was anything but.
It was painfully slow, but it was progress.
Although I would never have used the noun progress , I did start to learn the verb progress. I realized that just putting one foot in front of the other was to progress ...... was to move forward. Not move on, mind you, but move forward. I will never "move on" from Jim, my love for him, and from my "Before". But I have, and will continue to move forward. I will progress, because I was finally able to make the choice to do so. It took a long time ...... a very long time, for me to be able to see that I could choose ...... before I knew I had the strength to choose. And when that happened, I knew that I was progressing.
This road is long. And it's not smooth, or easy, or quick. It's filled with land mines, huge holes of depression, the needs of others, unfair comparisons (from other people as well as from ourselves), ever-changing relationships and a myriad of constantly swirling emotions that not only threaten to pull us under, but keep us from having the strengh to figure out who we are now in the "After" that we never chose.
As we all walk in our "Afters" together, I think the most important thing I can tell you is this:
"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as
you do not stop."
And while I think Confucius was a very wise man, I disagree with him on one small point, that really isn't so small: You can stop. You can take many stops on those days when moving forward takes more energy than you have.
Just don't stay stopped.
I've spent time with those who have stayed stopped ...... who have not moved forward in a very long time.
That choice is not for me. It's not what my kids want for me and it's certainly not what Jim would've wanted. Nor I for him.
And I hope it's not what you want.
Because no matter how difficult this is to hear ...... and I know that it is ...... Life is for the living.
And there's a lot of living to be had out there ...... even while we grieve. Don't wait to live, thinkig that you'll do it when the grief goes away. You'll never live.
The grief is here. It becomes far less overwhelming and it loses the capacity to drop you to your knees, or pull you down that dark cave, but it's always there.
And that's the way it should be. You had a love. You experienced love. Hopefully they were both great.
In my opinion, great love never goes away.
If great love never goes away then we cannot expect our grief for that love to go away.
But I promise you this ...... it becomes much easier to live with.
So keep progressing.
Move forward when you can.
Don't stop for good.
And keep breathing.
I promise it's worth it.