Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When people don't understand that your life has changed...

Once upon a time I had a husband who was the main breadwinner. Once upon the time I was even a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. When I worked as a substitute I had the flexibility of taking random days off (unpaid) to do things necessary/helpful for my adult children and their children. Do I wish I was still in the place where I could do that? Yes - but I am not.

My current situation in life is that of a new teacher at a school. I don't get paid well - it is a mission-type school. Therefore, in order to afford the high cost of health insurance, I am working a second job teaching classes at a wellness center (aka gym) two nights a week and substituting others. On Wednesday night, I volunteer at AWANA.  This means that THREE nights a week, right smack in a row, I do not catch a break. I do not get to breath and relax.

I was able to take a personal day when my daughter had her baby - and a good thing because she had complications. However, she was being induced and was in for about 30 hours before it finally happened. I knew this induction would be a long process but I had someone messaging me, asking questions and actually *shocked* that I wasn't there the whole time and rudely saying how they "assumed" I would be and why not. Do they not understand that out in the working world, you cannot just "take time off"??? I know longer have a bread-winning spouse to carry on and make sure income is coming in, bills are being paid. My employer was gracious to give me the day off on Friday. This involved me staying very late on Thursday making substitute plans and getting things ready for the following week. I was exhausted.

Another person had surgery and is hospitalized, so in spite of me being exhausted. In spite of me sitting in the emergency room for several hours with that person on Saturday, totally throwing off any hopes of being in my home doing what I needed to get done, I was pressured about being sure to be there for my Wednesday night volunteer obligation.  HELLO!  I would like to see my daughter and her baby!  I would like to bring them the meal that I prepared for them! And I would like to NOT have to feel guilty about it.  I am one person. One tired person. One frazzled-by-death-of-my-spouse and my life is NOT the same as it was.  I am not able to do and be all the things I was before. I am in survival mode and that is just how it is. DO I WANT IT TO BE LIKE THIS??? NO. No and no.  Do I have a choice? No.

I resigned my position of deaconess because I simply do not have the time or the ability right now to make arrangements for people who need prompt attention. Nor do I have time to receive phone calls after 9pm at night.  Again, WOW - I am trying to be in bed by 9 because I have to get up very early. I had weeks of insomnia that my body is still reeling from.

I'm at a point where I am losing patience for people who don't stop a minute and THINK that this is hard for me and continue to make demands on me. There is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven and I think this is my time to be given space to adjust and some compassion while I do that.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sundays then, Sundays now...

Mourning a spouse is not just about missing the person whose departure left this gaping hole.  The mourning of that person is heavy and hard enough but added to that is the loss of "life as you know it."

Today I'm once again faced by the crazy departure of "how I would spend a Sunday THEN" and the reality of "how I spend Sunday NOW."  Then had a definable routine.  I would wake up a bit before Pat and snuggle against him for a while. I would then make my way downstairs, light a couple of candles, roll out my yoga mat and begin my weekly long yoga workout. At some point he would come downstair, the dogs happily following him (they stayed in bed with whoever stayed there the longest).  He would let them out then come back to watch me or go back and forth between me and the kitchen if he woke up hungry. Often he'd bring his breakfast in to the living room to watch me. He or the dogs would bother me along the way. When I was done, it was kisses and off to shower and make my protein concoction. The rush began to get ready for church and out the door. We'd stop to get coffee and then head to service.  During church he would rub my shoulders and twirl my hair. I'd elbow him if his eyes started to close.  We would visit with folks afterward and then decide what to do about lunch. Eventually we'd wind up home where he would want a Sunday nap - I would either join him or work on a paper for school. Before it got too late, we would take the dogs out to a park and go for a nice long hike with them. Sometimes we'd drive them out to the lake to swim.  We'd hug and kiss, watch the sunset, talk and laugh. Then it would be off to prepare for Monday and hold each other close as we fell asleep.

Now I wake up surrounded by animals. I try to get my Sunday yoga in, but since I'm teaching it tomorrow night today I took the dogs on a long walk. I rushed and got ready to pick up my 2 yo granddaughter and then my sister to go visit my daughter in the hospital with her new son. She was being discharged so we were there about 45 minutes and we were walking her little family unit out to their car.  I dropped my sister off, got Khaleesi a kid's meal and a salad for me and went home to let the dogs out and play with her.  We hung out and read books and played until Mommy came with the big kids and their baby at 3pm. I sorted some of Pat's clothes to give away, put away my laundry, and began to cry.  Feeling incredibly alone and incredibly overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done around here. Feeling empty and hollow and just completely lost without my old life.

The calls come about things I should do or am I do, will I do. I'm discomfited by the changes, by the mayhem that is my home with piles of clothes, stacks of papers, things that must be sorted and absolutely no time to do it.  It's two months now. I think people thought I was so strong that they expect me to be moving on, to shouldering my burdens well, but little do they know that I'm just cruising through chaos and my ship is being blown wherever the storm takes me.

A collection of quotes...

“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.”
― John Green

“For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chunks of artificial construct...

Two months today since Pat left this world to be with his Savior. From one 12th to the next, to another, the months have been marked. Artificial constructs, manmade to mark the passage of something we sense and feel as we move through it, something that we exist "in" but is intangible and vanishes before we can ever truly own it.  We waste it, we kill it, we savor it and cherish it but we never know how much of it we truly have. Time rushes past or it plods along, but it always moves onward. In the present I type this, but already in the past are the movements that brought these words to print. Today marks two such chunks of this liquid, elusive stuff that lives are measured by, Months - a collection of weeks, days, hours and minutes demarcated by man, and measured by a ticking of a clock.  Two of these have passed separating the time since I last touched his living (albeit barely), breathing (by virtue of machines), flesh and blood body and today where I sit here without him. "For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow." ~Job 8:9

Somewhere in eternity, he is passing time the Lord's way with a day as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. No sorrow to mark it as we do on earth, measuring our grief in sad days that gather and collect themselves into months that pass.

“Time is very slow for those who wait;
very fast for those who are scared;
very long for those who lament;
very short for those who celebrate; but for those who love, time is eternal.”

- William Shakespeare

I'm not especially melancholy today, just philosophical.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

The part where reality sinks in...

The other day, I referred to Pat as my "late husband."  A page turned, a chapter ended. I hope this is still the middle of the book because I have never liked sad endings.

I went out on a quasi-date with someone I did not really know well at all. It was odd - nice man, no chemistry whatsoever. In person, he looked too much like an old pastor of mine and it was unnerving.  And the act of going out on this quasi-date made reality really dig its roots down. I came home and felt incredibly lonely. Incredible alone. As if my aloneness had been just a dream state that I was sure I would wake up from ...but this action was the proverbial slap upside the head that said, "You are awake, dummy! This is your reality."

And it is. I'm a widow. I'm alone. I have no one to curl up on bed with at night - if you don't count my dogs. No one to rub my shoulders, no shoulders to rub. No one who is putting the toilet paper on the roll backwards or forgetting to put the seat down.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

And the ring came off...

It was time. 46 days after his death and I was still wearing my ring. It anchored me to a life that I no longer live, bound me to a hollowness that I need to fill. Do I love him less with the ring off my finger? No. Does it in any way erase the years, damage the memories, salt the wound? No. But removing it from my left hand tells my heart that I kept my vows - and it was until "death do us part." The parting has occurred; the love lasts forever but the vows are complete.

And so, here I stand, ringless. Unattached and needing to face the world as "me."

It's funny how there are people who love to share advice - there are those who would see me be alone and widowed, directing my energy into some solitary endeavor like my career, missions, etc., bound forever to memory.  Then there are those who want to encourage me to enjoy the independence of singleness - to be strong, powerfully steering my own ship into the land of Alone at Night.

But as for me, who am I really? I am a woman who is a nurturer - I like taking care of someone and I like being taken care of. I like the symbiotic relationship of true partners. I like having someone in the boat with me to work with to get to wherever the destination may be. I'm not a fan of waking up in the morning and not being accountable to another soul. The ring is off and that naked finger symbolizes how cut off and bereft I am of everything that has always meant so much to me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

I miss you...

I miss you... There are not enough words in the whole wide universe to express the emptiness in my life without you.

I miss your strong hands - always twirling my hair, rubbing my neck, the way you placed one on the small of my back when you walked into a room with me.

I missed our morning ritual of kisses. If I was still in bed, you'd kiss me and then either come back and kiss me again or I'd run to the stairs and kiss you at the top.  If we were downstairs, we'd kiss in the kitchen and you'd say good-bye, but we would always kiss again on the porch. There I would stand and tell you to "Drive safe!" If you didn't say, "Yes, dear," you would make a joke and I would watch you drive away.

I miss the way I would wake up and find you kneeling on my side of the bed, staring at me and watching me sleep.

I miss hearing your voice and all the stories you told me about your day and about your projects.

I miss listening to you talking to the dogs. They miss that, too, and all the treats you gave them! I'm not very good at eating things to share with them. They were even desperate for watermelon the other day.

I miss hearing you breathe, stroking your silky soft hair, making you smile, telling you I love you, being your wife.

Patrick, I  miss you.