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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Another Milestone on the Horizon

The start of the New Year makes me think of all important dates coming up-the anniversary of Bruce's death, my birthday and our anniversary.  This year we would have been married 40 years.  Quite a milestone to consider if he were still alive.  Sometimes (but not often) I stop and think about what life would have been like.  Bruce would have loved all of the life changes - the marriage, the births, being a grandfather to 3 little ones (actually 2 right now with another on the way).  He always acknowledged our anniversary as a very important date on the calendar.  And - in a very atypical fashion, I was the one who had difficulty remembering the day.  Was it the 25th or the 26th?  I was always off by one day for most things.

We got married a week after I turned 19 years old.  March has a special significance in light of this and it follows on the heels of his death in February.  I think that I have written about my birthday issues in past entries but just before he died - he would spend the week trying to help me acknowledge the date.  It is funny how he never seemed to understand that the date was best recognized by the presence of all of my family.  I hate to think that I am narcissistic - but in this case, I guess that is the correct label.  Yes, I want that day to be about me, and it upsets me a bit that I am easily disappointed by what my birthday does not bring.  One of the goals that I work towards is taking care of myself, and my birthday is a perfect opportunity to do that.  So, what do I want to do and how do I make that happen?  Rather than dismissing the day as a statement about how "not important I am and do I really expect everyone to drop everything and help me celebrate" - I am trying to do something by myself-for myself.  This has now translated to spending the day at home, watching television, knitting, baking, listening to music, and whatever.  It also means that I will buy myself a gift.  Does it sadden me that I need to do this - that there is no one there to look out for me and orchestrate the day?  It would be a lie to say that I am not sad about that.  But still it never felt quite right to put my celebration in someone else's hands.  And I believe that a birthday should be acknowledged and yes, celebrated.

And so I approach another year and another set of milestones, my sixth year as a widow, my birthday, my wedding anniversary date.
And I will focus on not focusing on what it means to be alone, and how different my life is now.  Instead I will try and recognize my strength in dealing with the unthinkable events in the recent past-both bad and good.  And I will try and contemplate the future that I want for myself and try and make that happen.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recapping in light of an anniversary

I am coming up on six years.  I guess in the light of the 34 years that I was married, six is nothing.  Yet it feels like a lifetime.  Someone else's lifetime.  The strange thing this year is that the days match the days of the year that Bruce died.  Six years ago this week, Bruce and I had celebrated Valentine's Day, and had a good long weekend.  We stayed home and graded papers and then on Friday the 20th we got up and went to the gym and by 1pm he was gone.

There are flashes of memories of that day.  The run up to the front of 24 hour fitness, the sight of Bruce on the floor, my screams and cries, my attempt to run to his side while being held back, the paramedics, the ride in the ambulance, the aloneness in the hospital ER waiting room, the entrance of friends and family, the ride to Western Med, the waiting room there, the overhead pages calling the "code" over and over again and finally the goodbye after the decision to terminate resuscitation attempts.

I also remember bits and pieces of the days, weeks and months following his death.  The first year of me going through the motions of living my life.  The adjustments of a life alone, the despair that accompanied the overwhelming loneliness, the challenges of work and taking care of Bebe.  The years that followed enabled me to find a routine without Bruce.  And then there was the joy of being a grandparent, and celebrating my children's movement through their life cycles-a wedding, the births, new jobs, new houses.

It is still difficult to believe that my life has changed so much in the past six years.  Could I have predicted it-of course not.  And it is that overriding thought that helps the most.  I cannot predict the future and in that there is comfort because the possibility exists that good things can happen for me.
I can sum all of this up by saying that I am "cautiously optimistic", a phrase that I used often before Bruce died - as I anticipated all of the good things that life seemed to bring in the months before his death.  I was able to get a position closer to home, a new house blocks away and some financial security that we had never had in our 34 years of marriage.  We were both ecstatic, believing that good karma had finally come our way-and then there were a series of unfortunate events - and finally his death.

So as I acknowledge another year-I am grateful that I have come this far and am able to deal with the sometimes up hill battle.