Another widow said this today, " I'm trying the 3 A's- Absorption, Adjustment, Acceptance.---an alteration of my being." She admitted struggling with all three as she stands at 8 months since the passing of her beloved. Here I am, almost 18 months down the road and I, too, have had to face the 3 A's and somehow assimilate into my reality. Early on, I knew that acceptance was a given because when I looked backward my life was gone and when I looked a head, there was nothing but an empty road beckoning me with irresistible force. I grit my teeth like before plunging into the cold water of a pool and accepted the shock to my body and forced myself to swim. I've never liked that cold water and I'm not a big swimmer. But I had to tell myself I'd become accustomed to it. It's a process. There is new adjustment, new accustoming nearly daily. I've been altered - yes, I'm not the same woman I was 18 months ago. I'm wiser to the fact that life is not tamable, that things happen that you absolutely cannot control and that sitting still, hoping the world will stop spinning, is not an option.
Sometime after you grit your teeth and dive into an icy pool and then experience the "getting adjusted" to the water part, you find that you begin to chill again and your teeth begin to chatter. That's when you discover you need to get out of the pool. There was a time when I had to take the plunge into the bracing water of widowhood and let my body face the shock of the cold head on. After wading about and making a go at swimming for a good long while, it occurred to me that I can climb out, grab a towel and allow myself some time to get warm.
My heart has bled a few times this year when I've see other women I know suddenly find themselves in this difficult predicament. How we face an icy pool is different for everyone. Some put a toe in at a time, sit on the ladder, worry over inch after inch of skin which must be slowly submerged. It's okay. We all have our own way of adapting to the chilling baptism of a widowhood. How we react when we find ourselves standing on that ladder and facing bitter waters is deeply personal. How long in takes to get in and how long it takes before we are able to step out of it is going to vary from individual to individual. Take your time, rely on God, and do what feels right for you. Don't let anyone tell you that you cry too much or too little, that's you're moving on too fast or aren't letting go quick enough. Widowhood is altering *being* and that work will be done on the timetable that is right for you, not for outsiders.
The reality of the alteration me and my world have undergone struck me today while I was painting baseboards and trim. Last time the bedroom was painted, my husband painted it. It was the color of coffee with two or three splashes of cream. I sat on the floor painting the baseboards antique white to compliment the granite grey of the freshly painted walls. I thought - he sat here. He was the last person to sit in this spot and paint this. With every brush stroke I am covering over his work. I had sorted, sifted, bagged and removed things - I had rearranged furniture. Was I obliterating him from the room? It will no longer look like the space his handiwork had completed; inwardly, I flinched. But then I understood that beneath the fresh layer would always lie his work. His touch was forever on those walls and on that trim. Every brush stroke sealed beneath mine. As for me, I no longer can live my life as Pat's wife but I will always be Pat's widow. and there are layers to me, albeit unseen, that will always bear the brushstrokes of our lives together.
"God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others." (2 Corinthians 1:4)
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