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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Life Without

The last few days I have been thinking so much about the past 2 and 1/2 years without Bruce.  My life with him seems further and further away-something that I have blogged about previously.  But a piece of me feels missing, a part of my core that will never be replaced.  So even though I sometimes have difficulty remembering all that I would like, there is an emptiness that reminds me of my life before.

I wonder too, what my life would be like now with him.  We would both be sharing in our first grandchild, and he would be tickled at the experience.  I also know that I would be living day to day-somewhat oblivious to my good fortune, that I was still so smitten with my husband of 3 decades.  Do we ever really acknowledge and appreciate what we have?  I know that I told him that I loved him daily.  I rested my hand on his cheek and told him how important he was to me.  But I don't think that I ever really understood how his absence would be my greatest challenge.  And I try not to do the same with the others around me-to be so caught up in the loss that I do not appreciate and take stock of what I have.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have been thinking a lot about the people that I know and life's rhythms.  My mom always tells me the "the secret to being miserable is having the time to think about it".  With apologies to both my mother and to George Bernard Shaw (his quote), I disagree.  Do we really need to make time to dwell?  And if we do not think about it, does it really mean we are not miserable?  I contend that we need to think about things in order to make changes.  I guess part of healing ourselves is to make changes-and unless we do some deep cognitive analysis, there is no potential for change.

That being said, I think about the other widows that I know and the process of grief.  I think that the human condition does not allow for process.  We focus on the outcome, on the resolution without thinking about how we evolve.  Case in point:  I know of a widow - who has been at this widow stuff a year longer than I have.  I have looked to her as the guide - she after all has been at this longer than I have.  She has been through some of the phases that I have witnessed in others.  The shocked, disconnected phase, the freedom phase (accompanied by various acts of indulgence followed by guilt), the need to be relentlessly busy phase, and the depressed, need help phase.  I assumed that I would move through the phases too in much the same way.  She also went through the dating phase, new boyfriend phase, etc.  But as I watch her progression, and talk to her now-she has confessed to me that she is in a new phase of loneliness and despair.  Her husband died 4 years ago and she still continues to cycle back and forth.  Recently she found an old wedding band and put it on, immediately feeling some comfort.
Interesting to consider.  Yes, I miss my old life and over the past 2 and 1/2 years my life has taken on some changes that make it difficult to forget my loss.  Yes, I live in the same place and hold the same job. But a lot has changed-my relationships with my children and the new blessing-my grandson.  As time passes and things look different to me-it is harder to superimpose my old life with the new.  I would trade it all in a minute to get him back-but as the months fly by-I realize that I am adjusting to life alone.  I do not necessarily like this life, I would not have chosen it - but there it is.

I think of me on the beach-a metaphor since even though I am staying across the street-I have not yet been on the sand.  I gingerly put my toe in the water and wait and see how it goes.  I can not see behind me-the fog too thick.  In a nutshell-this is my life.  I look ahead and approach very cautiously.  Occasionally I can see the past-mostly just as a faint image, and often without trying to hard to envision some memory.  I experiment-not as a scientist anxious for the outcome-but as a novice.  I try to analyze my inner thoughts as a way to move forward.

"An unexamined life is not worth living"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Flip Side

I had a chance to see my family this weekend and also reflect on life as I now know it. True, it always makes me pause when I gather for an event-in this case to celebrate the birth of the new little guy in the family, as I physically miss Bruce beside me. Emotionally-well I cannot even go there. But I so appreciate that I can be surrounded by people that I love and feel the warmth of those who have really known me. We have all shared some history, and that provides some comfort-and no explanation is necessary.

So I reflected on the past 2 and 1/2 years.  Yes, I do reflect back during the celebration and commiseration of events, I think that it is only natural.  But in this case, there were a few other prompts.  The baby was born 5 days before Bruce's birthdate, he was male and during the bris, the rabbi discussed Bruce.  Bruce's photo was displayed on the mantle, and he "watched" us during the ceremony.

As I thought about it-I decided that I am trying hard to concentrate on the flip side of life-the heads and not the tails.  It is much easier to see the negative-our society seems to feed on it.  The problems that need to be solved, the challenges to overcome, the issues to be dealt with.  I try to find a positive-maybe only one a day to remind myself that there is some small joy in my life.  I acknowledge that it sometimes is a stretch-on those days an interesting rerun of Law and Order may be the only thing that I can find, but the effort is worth it.  I have been asked recently to recall the last time that I had fun and I can only think back to life with Bruce.  It was not only fun-he was funny and his sense of humor put even the tensest moments in perspective.  But it is really not fair or even accurate to say that I have not had "fun" since he died.

To only focus on the negative undermines the love and attention that the people around me offer me.  I have fun with my children, my family, my friends.  I can laugh and enjoy the company and being part of a world of color in contrast to the gray that  surrounds me when I think of a world without Bruce and the sunshine he brought to my life.  So I am trying to look at the flip side-there is the negative but often there is something there that can be seen as a positive-some way to turn around a difficult situation.

These past 2 weeks have been a mixture of sadness and joy-I can focus on either-why not the joy?
It is a constant struggle.

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Adventure

Bruce was always able to turn things around-at least cognitively, and at least for others. He usually told me that I wasn't nervous, just excited. He also was able to spin interesting and difficult times as adventures. When I put together my sabbatical and a first grandchild on the way-I decided that I would rent a place near my daughter and son-in-law's apartment. I imagined myself on the beach soaking up the sun and then making a visit daily to bond with the new person in my life. I also thought that I could help out and further bond with my daughter and son-in-law.

I have come to understand that these "adventures" are often tinged with challenges. Often the "imagined" turns out to be pure fantasy. Although I am doing okay day to day-what I thought life would be like hasn't materialized. The studio is okay but a bit small and isolating. It has been rainy and the beach not especially conducive to sun-bathing. And then there is my concerns about Bebe-her barking, her anxiety, all of the details in settling her.

But when I think about it - although I am a bit disappointed that I cannot fully enjoy my beach experience, I am overjoyed that I am close to my new grandson and children, and a bit proud that I have made this happen in spite of my anxieties and grief. I know that part of the anxiety made me delay and thus hampered my options. But I have learned a bit in the process and gained some self-confidence.

Moving forward is hard but I will do it in spite of myself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A New Life

Finally a new life and some hope for the future. My first grandchild was born on October 2nd, 2011. This is just 5 days before his grandfather's birthday-and Bruce would have been 57 years old. It is joy to welcome this baby boy-even though it is tinged with the regret that Bruce is not here to be part of it. But the sadness is manageable-

I have taken a studio near my daughter to help with anything that needs my input. She is amazing though and I know her Dad would have been so proud to see her handle all of the newness with such confidence. She will be an amazing Mom-loving but structured-the best!

So although there are challenges ahead for me-work has been difficult, and the financial concerns continue-it is all in the context of the joy of new beginnings. More tomorrow!