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Monday, April 25, 2011

The New Normal

I have heard the term "new normal" so much since Bruce died. It is interesting because I do not think of anything about my life now as normal. I have somewhat of a routine, but it still feels as if I am in some experimental condition. I continue to tread water but cannot really go anywhere. Am I creating a new life for myself?-it does not feel that way. I am just doing what I need to do right now until I figure this life out.

My mood is better and I am looking forward. This is helped by the fact that good things are on the horizon: a relative moving closer, a baby in the family, a sabbatical, perhaps a wedding. But the more that I look forward the further away Bruce is.

There is nothing about this life that approaches normality. I do what I do because I have to. I am not aware of choices that I am making although of course, I choose everyday. But these are small choices-like what I have for breakfast. All the big choices are out of my hands. This is not the life that I chose for myself. It was the life that was handed to me.

Nothing normal about that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Widows Story continued

Long time between posts. I had my birthday and my anniversary. I celebrated my anniversary with my kids in Palm Desert, a place that Bruce and I enjoyed on many occasion. He loved going away and Palm Desert had all the ingredients for a great getaway. Bruce loved the shopping, the eating out, the desert landscape. I thought of him as I did some of these things and wished for him to be with me again.

But I had great company-my children and their significant others (who I consider as my children as well) are the people that I love spending time with. They are kind, caring, and wildly entertaining. When I am with them, I laugh and truly enjoy life. They are the best part of Bruce and it is so "normalizing" to be with them.

I am missing Bruce a lot these days. Not a boo hoo kind of experience, but a longing for him as I tackle hurdles and issues at work and home. I miss his company in the evening, and his sage advice or comments when I get home from work or get an e-mail that sends me into a tailspin. Bebe tries to be a good listener but unfortunately as a dog, she is more interested in playing ball or chewing her Nylabone.

I finally finished Joyce Carol Oates book: A Widow's Story. It really focuses on the first few months after her husband Ray dies. Interesting how she really separates her personal and professional self. She is both Joyce Smith, widow of Ray Smith and Joyce Carol Oates, the writer and professor. Her grief overwhelms the personal self while the professional self attends lectures and gives talks all over the country. I marvel that she is able to keep some separation even though she is very devastated by her husband's death. And then at the end-she meets a stranger and the book ends. I learned that she re-married 6 months after Ray dies and I think that it is this stranger (who almost literally falls in her lap at a dinner party) who becomes her 2nd husband.

I thought about this a lot. Is it better to fill the void quickly before you get used to being alone? There are many widows and widowers who do this. Many were quick to condemn Joyce Carol Oates for her quick turnaround from grieving widow to blushing bride. But a part of me refuses to condemn this behavior. We need to continue-to find some reason to go on after the devastating loss of our loves. Whatever helps us achieve this end is okay. And-unless you have experienced a loss like this-it is hard to have any perspective. I worry that the more that I get used to being alone-the harder it will be to invest in someone else. Being alone, truly alone is hard. And the idea of being alone for the rest of my life seems to re-fresh my grief. I grieve for the loss now and for the loss of my future with the man I love. I grieve for what I will not get to share with him-the wedding, the grandchildren, the commiserating about our growing old, and the retirement. More on this in the next entry.