GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence … (from Desiderata)
If only it were that easy. Although once able to find an inner calm and peaceful silence in meditation & Reiki — or a simple walk on the beach, it’s not been easy since being widowed. The thought of sitting with my own thoughts and reflecting deeply is frightening if I’m honest. If attempted I’m not sure I would recover from what sits inside my head and heart, just out of reach, waiting to be faced.
The many ways I have changed since becoming a widow, slowly and not always subtly, are coming into focus as the days, weeks and months turn into a year that will become years.
The top of my list right now are
I don’t read books anymore: This I didn’t expect, I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Although I’ve tried to start one here and there, I haven’t managed to read a book in over a year. I have 20 new books sitting on my bookshelf, a gift from friends who know me well, that remain untouched a little dusty and although hand picked by me, unappealing. The thought of reading imagined stories of love and loss, adventure, death, mystery, romance and heartbreak, right now, is almost humorous. And then there is the lack of focus and weary eyes that wander mid-sentence, because the story, once something that intrigued, no longer holds my interest. I hope this will change with time.
I’m not as accommodating as I was: I was a yes girl. I didn’t want to disappoint people, I wanted to be of service, to be liked — even if it meant putting others needs above my own. I was by no means a doormat, but I was accommodating. I am not so much anymore, mainly because it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the luxury of spare time — and sometimes because it doesn’t suit me. Lack of time was a concept I didn’t understand prior to my husband becoming ill and me becoming a widow. Time to be me, just to be and to be at home with our children while they were small, was a gift Bren gave me. One I will treasure the rest of my days because it also gave me more time with him while he was here. In the year since losing him, I have focused my time and energy on guiding my children through the grief of losing their father and building a new business with my sisters so I can support my little family…while trying to learn how to live in a world that my husband no longer exists in. Where possible, I don’t do things that add to the stress, distress or discomfort of my life or my children’s lives. I use my time wisely because I have less to spare. When I do have some to spare, I surround myself with people who lift my spirits and enjoy my company. People who get me. My tribe.
I’m not as patient as I was: I mixture of devasting grief and general tiredness seem to have left me with the inability to deal well with trivial things. I am trying hard to work at regaining a little patience but am struggling with that, a lot. I’ll keep trying. It’s important to my peace.
I’m not as social as I was… I freeze at the thought of going to events that require me to chitty chat small talk with anyone. I sometimes feel socially awkward and a bit like a part of me is missing when mingling outside of my regular crew. In the year since losing my husband, I have attended comedy shows, movie nights, art exhibitions and theatre productions, to ease into my solo life. I can enjoy these types of events and leave before any real socialising begins if I’m not feeling like I will cope in a crowd. Standing in a room full of people enjoying each others company can still leave me feeling like the loneliest, saddest person in the world. So I avoid situations that leave me feeling like that.
I’m stronger than I was: I haven’t always been confident and didn’t often step outside my comfort zone before Bren got cancer, no matter how hard he tried to get me to jump off jettys. Caring for him through his cancer diagnosis, treatment and death was more painful and frightening than anything I could have imagined for us. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to stand beside him against cancer and stand up to all it threw at us. I did. The strength I needed came from a place I didn’t even know was there. A primal place that we all possess — full of inner strength.
Loneliness has become a clingy friend…this one is no surprise. I am not lonely in a general sense. I have my children and am surrounded by family and friends. I live in a community that I feel at home in and am not short of things to do with fabulous people who are all great company. A social life is ready and waiting for me to jump into — when I am ready. I’m grateful for that. My loneliness is for Bren and that’s not really fixable. I hate having something to tell him and forgetting for a brief moment that I can’t call him, can’t yell out from the kitchen and hear him laugh about the latest funny thing our kids, dog, one of our friends or family did.
It makes me lonely that life goes on without him and that amazing things are happening in our lives all the time even though he’s gone…
I can hear him saying that’s crazy, I’m pulling every string I can up here for you, so it will, and I know he is.
I don’t dance anymore: I don’t remember the last time I danced but think it was at the teambrendanm event a couple of years ago. Bren had just finished a 7-day chemotherapy infusion, and he had endured a pretty rough 5-hour drive home before turning up at the event — just in time to thank everyone and dance. Dancing was one of our favourite things and was the first thing we did the night we met, before talking into the early morning hours like old friends. When the kids were little, to save money on sitters, we had salsa date nights at home, (neither of us knew how to salsa) and we loved getting up to dance at every celebration we went to. I miss dancing with my husband and have no real want to dance without him.
Life goes on: as much as I expected it to, and wanted it to stop at the very moment I lost Bren, life goes on — as it should. Even for me. I still go to bed every night and wake up in the morning. That’s not to say I always sleep. Sometimes I do, some I don’t with no rhyme or reason for either. The world spins, stuff happens — happy stuff & sad stuff, seasons change, children grow, time passes. Sometimes I move with it, sometimes I don’t want to.
For now, the memories of having Bren here are still vivid, clear and strong…I can close my eyes and feel like it was only yesterday that we did this or that. Letting me think he is still with us, just for a minute. As life goes on it hurts to think my memories might dim, fade and some could disappear altogether. So I write it down, I look at photos and I watch videos. I do all I can do to record, document … remember, not only for me but so our children and their children’s children will always know from what an incredible man they came.
In the end, all that we are left with that matters is love, and that never changes.