Still A Toddler

3_14_11.jpgWell, it's Sunday night, and I just realized I needed to get to writing my Monday post. I have kept very busy today with home improvement projects. And, because of Spring being at my door, I have been miserable with allergies. I seem to be popping Benadryl all day long, as if they were breath mints, which is likely why I have been so drowsy all day as well. Not the kind of day where I would be focused on what date it is.

So I sat down, opened this window to write, and realized it was March 13th. Now I'm not usually one to keep track of dates, which is why I only now realize it, but I have been a widower for exactly 18 months today. I suppose the other way of looking at it, is that Michael has been gone for exactly 18 months.

You know, some days it feels like I have lived without him for such a long time now. The days seem to last so long without him. Yet when I look at the number, I recognize that 18 months is not very long at all. What's 18 months when you expected to be together forever, or at least until you grew old together.

If I think of myself as a baby, or a toddler, I see that I am still in the infancy of grieving. It hasn't been so long since I found the use of my legs, and began walking on my own. I'm still unsure of what lies ahead, partly because at this age, I still don't have a real since of others. I see myself as the center of the universe, and everything, or everyone, else is clouded by my grief.

Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself, thinking I am further along than I actually am, and quickly find myself falling flat on my face. I may cry and cry, but for this toddler, there is no one there to pick me up. There is no one there to hold me close, and reassure me that everything is going to be alright. And because no one is there, I have learned to talk to myself, telling myself to get back up, and start walking forward all over again.

Some falls are little, and I am easier to accept that I will be alright. Other times the fall is harder, and may cause a cut or bruise, which are not so quick to heal, or to repair themselves. These are the times when I feel like I am walking around with an open wound for all to see. The sad thing is, not many people see past the band aid that I clumsily put on my skinned heart. They may notice that somewhere under that bandage is a hurt, but they must tell themselves that I am obviously being taken care of, otherwise I would be walking around bleeding. I always appreciate the rare person who stops me, and asks how I am doing, or inquires how my hurt feels today. I may not have sought the help, but when another person is willing to sit with me, and offers to lift the bandage, so as to clearly see my wound, that is when I know I will be alright again.

And as is the case with an 18 months old, bedtime is not the easiest process to get through either. First of all, I don't like having to sleep alone. I still want, and crave, that warm body next to mine. I still want the feel his heart pumping, or to have his arm pull me close if I need some added assurance. Then as I lay there, hoping that sleep will come soon, it hits me just like every other night, that that which is needed to pacify my agitated soul has been taken away.

I know that I'm supposed to be a big boy now when it comes to living with my grief. Yet, like a baby who is sung a lullaby each night before sleep, I was given a goodnight kiss, along with the words "I love you," before I closed my eyes each night. Now I must soothe myself. I still whisper gently to him each night, "I love you Michael," but now there is no response.

It's not so easy having to grow up and stand on my own two feet. Yet that is what I must do. If I do want something more out of this life, then I will have to walk the best way I can. I will have to assure myself, that if I keep walking, I might just come across something shiny and new.

One step at a time. Getting better and better with each step I take.

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