This is what I have strived to achieve in my life – better than. My writing should be better than a few years ago. My life lessons continue to teach me better than yesterdays. My work assignments are better than the last one in my learning curve. And my house decoration decisions make my home better than. To me, better than is a way to measure the past and present in order to improve. I try to do better than in all aspects of my life, and this is even more evident in widowhood.
Every day since Peter died, I want to do better than. I want to feel my feels better than I did the week before, the day before, the hour before, whether that means to have fall apart moments or be a bit more okay. I want to be better than in looking for the gifts inside this nightmare because, in these searches, I find myself. I want to be better than with my patience for people when I rehash Peter’s stories, whether its with neighbors, co-workers, friends, family members of customer service. I want to be better than holding it together when I need to and releasing it when I should. I want to be better than living my life since this horror show started. This doesn’t mean being happy in it, that won’t happen for a long time, but being able to walk through it better than before with less scared.
Being better than does not mean perfection. There is no such thing and I don’t have it in me to even attempt it. Besides, I won’t, I can’t, put that pressure on myself. No, better than right now in my life means trying to get closer to okay. I have to face my widowhood, my life without a partner, to help me through the stress, the falls, the everydayness better than each day. I have to be better than at saying to Life, f-you I’m going to make it, and mean it. I see and embrace these better thans, even if they’re accompanied with insecurities or ‘yeah, buts’, in order to reach closer to okay.
Tomorrow, I will be seven weeks into this bad dream, since Peter died. Looking back to how I was seven weeks ago, five weeks ago, three weeks ago, even yesterday, I have done better than. I am still standing. Not only standing but walking and talking. Sure, I cry and scream and swear, but I move on. I keep standing. And once in a while, I laugh…and sometimes, I actually feel the laugh. I am doing better than.
The death of a spouse is different than any other death in your life. There’s no walking away from any of this. I can’t go home. I am home, a home I shared with my spouse and memories packed in like pungent sardines. I don’t have the support of a spouse to get me through this. He’s dead. I have constants like paperwork and people and momentums surrounding me shouting, ‘he’s not coming back’. I have no escape from any of this. None. It’s just me…and a wonderful group of people in my life, but really, just me. I need to get better than in order to survive in this horror of a tale that most of the time I can’t believe is mine. So, yeah, I do look at the better thans as victories, small or big. They are my surviving tools right now.
Last night, I was with two of my besties, sister really, and I told them I was there once and now I’m here. I still hurt every day. I still wake up thinking, ‘oh shit, Peter’s dead”. I still have a hard time moving. I still am scared about my future. I still have half of me ripped away, feeling exposed. And I’m still trying to figure it all out. And yet, here, right now, I am doing better than back there, behind me. Up there, in the future, there may ever more better thans waiting. But I can’t worry about what’s up there. All I can hold onto is what I see now, the better than yesterday.