I arrived back home (Cape Cod) from my vacation and the Conference on Widowhood late last night and went straight to bed, more tired than tired.
This morning I got up and took a look around.
The grass needed to be mowed, the garden needed to be weeded, and the house had a layer of fine dust that I couldn’t see but I knew was there. My desk was the same messy mess that I left a week and a half ago and my voice mail was full.
The first thing I did was to fill the bird feeder. My finches don’t need food this time of year, but I feed them anyway because when I do they put on a colorful show.
The second thing I did was to make myself a cup of good, strong, Starbucks coffee. I then flopped in my favorite comfy chair and recalled the flight home.
Flying from Seattle to Boston I sat in the middle of a family, two parents and three small well-behaved children. I rested, as much as one can inside of a 180-thousand-pound missile hurtling through the atmosphere aiming hopefully for one’s city of origin, in my case, Boston. Knowing the landing would include flying over water, I was not comforted. I don't like flying.
But my mind gradually drifted from the quite lengthy list of possible catastrophes, to the young family that surrounded me.
That family, I thought, that family was supposed to be us. Two parents, many kids. We were supposed to be going on trips and coming home late at night and quietly, together, depositing our sleeping children in their beds. We were supposed to be whispering above their dream-filled heads about our plans for the next day or the next week. We were supposed to be reminiscing about the vacation we had and planning the next. And furthermore, I'll bet our kids would have been as smart as theirs, or smarter and more musical and more athletic and and and and.... And better behaved.
(God help me, this was really what I was thinking...)
And so there I was. Right in the middle of self-pity and pettiness once again. The good karma from the Conference and my vacation, evaporating before my eyes.
I have been a widow for a good while now, and I know the signs. I know the difference between grief and self-pity. I know, as they say, that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. We must grieve. We must feel the brokenness of our hearts. We must talk about what we have lost. And we must do it over and over again, for as long as it takes to get better.
But the truth is that I am happy these days, and I treasure our very little family. I have done my grieving. I have an amazing daughter and an equally amazing (and pregnant) stepdaughter. I can recognize that my life is different than it would have been without once again causing myself to suffer.
So why do I still sometimes choose to suffer? Yikes. I don’t know. Habit maybe? Anyhow, this time I caught myself in the act and stopped my jealous thinking…and instead fed on the memories of the amazing gathering of widows in San Diego. And I was happy for those two parents and their beautiful children. That is what I will focus on for today.