I’ve spoken publicly about loss, grieving, healing, and most recently finding love again after losing my spouse / best friend / partner. You have learned far too much about not only grief and widowhood, but my private life, as well. Far. Too. Much.
However, whenever someone reaches out to me about something they’ve read on my blog, almost exclusively they thank me for my brutal honesty. They appreciate that while I have shown grief in all its raw ugliness, I still try to sprinkle everything with hope and inspiration.
This post will likely touch all the bases that seem to speak to others – honesty, pain, hope, and healing. I truly wish that it does, and may it provide continued encouragement to those who need it.
As you may know, S and I have been together for several months now. While I was unsure exactly what I had been looking for when I finally dipped my toe back into the dating pool, I definitely know what I wasn’t looking for, and unfortunately, found far too much of that. So much so that my dates were all firsts (none got to a second until S), and it would be several weeks between them because they were either that horrible, or they simply turned me off dating for a short while to recuperate before the next one. Dating after 50 is tough. Dating after 50 as a widow is worse, it seems.
With the third anniversary of A’s death looming (and I really hate that term – one should not use the same word for the day someone dies as for the day s/he gets married – but the common alternatives are worse. Deathaversary, anyone? Who thought up that clever little word? Ugh. I digress.), I have felt the storm brewing. I had warned S weeks ago that things were likely to get hairy around this time. The best way to describe it, is that I have been “prickly”. Every little thing irritates me, or causes me to break down. And after hearing the analogy about the grief box, it made sense to me. My button is being pressed too often and too long of late as compared with the previous months.
This has caused some miscommunication and hurt feelings and emotional distancing on both our parts. Basically, even with the “bumpy road ahead” sign, we were still not being as cautious as we should have been. The good news is that we are both still on the same page when it comes to this relationship. Despite some rough patches, we are not only still in this thing, we are still in it together. That bodes well for the future of our togetherness, I feel.
If you measure solely by the calendar, we haven’t been dating very long. But if you measure by relationship challenges, and experiences, and actual time spent getting to know one another through conversation, we are way ahead of the game.
S has definitely seen me melt down numerous times in the past month or so; a few weeks ago, as I was perched on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor, I had my phone playing music in the background. My wedding song came on, I wasn’t prepared to hear it, and nearly collapsed in a heap. My phone was on the counter and I couldn’t reach it fast enough (overweight, middle-aged lady on a tile floor = slow, difficult standing procedure), and when S came around the corner, I begged him to “push next”.
When I was finally able to compose myself, I asked for a hug and explained what he had just witnessed. Although he didn’t say anything, I’m sure he had been completely confused walking in on me like that. No, I’m not a fan of scrubbing the floors, but I promise, that was an atypical reaction and unrelated to the cleaning.
Since then, I have randomly broken down over things both significant and inconsequential (mostly the latter, if I’m being perfectly truthful). And my brain has been working overtime making up scenarios that don’t even make sense! There was one particularly absurd day where I was convinced S was both breaking up with me and buying me a house. (Even he doesn’t know that lunacy, despite my confessing far too often about my insane thoughts. There’s a limit to what I’ll throw at him at any given time.) Yeah, I know… crazy! (And I can’t say that without envisioning A imitating the two Canadian moose in Disney’s animated Brother Bear, fake sneeze and all.)
Through it all, S has been not only supportive, but incredibly patient, despite me giving him every reason not to be.
Strangely, this has been the most difficult year yet. Year 3. I should be better at handling this stuff by now, shouldn’t I? I realized that I was still quite numb at one year. Year two, I was in a bit of a better place, but looking forward toward a summer of self-discovery, and not entirely focused on the pain, either (which is absolutely mind-boggling, because I have done everything I can to not avoid the pain but meet it head on).
This year, I think I’m finally able to take a step back from being strong because I have someone to help prop me up. I’ve come to the conclusion (discovery?) that knowing S is in my court allows me to take a breath and hand the hard stuff to someone else. (And trust me, calling the stuff I’m throwing at S “hard” is like calling a tiger a “little kitty”… both are so far off the mark as to almost be coming around again.) Being allowed to let go a little bit has also enabled me to lose it (more than) a little bit.
So as I look toward the 17th and spending a few days with my three grown children and their significant others as we’ve done each year (the first being a trip down memory lane on Sanibel Island and the second being what my son dubbed The Year of the Sponge, a few days spent in Tarpon Springs, FL, a small village with a fairly large Greek population where they dive for sponges and apparently sell them (and only those) in the numerous shops around the docks. While it was not as positive as the first trip, it was certainly memorable).
During these trips, we reminisce, we laugh, we cry, and we spread a bit more of A’s ashes. His remains are now dispersed as far and wide as the Gulf of Mexico, Martha’s Vineyard, and Montana, and we will continue to honor his desire to travel by spreading his ashes in places all over the world each year on the date of his passing, as well as any other destination he has been, or would have wanted to visit. It has become our family tradition, in a family that has created dozens over the years.
As “that date” nears, I ask that you keep me and my children in your thoughts, but also pray for S. He’s the one that has to deal the most with my crazy these days, yet it isn’t fair to him since he wasn’t involved in making me this way. Give him a year or two, and then perhaps we can shift the blame his way a little.
In the meantime, just send out the positive vibes that he survives this anniversary, while I do my best to get through it as unscathed as possible.
© 2019 Many Faces of Cheri G