Now what? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself these past few weeks. In the two months since Peter’s death, I have spent my life in shock, paralyzed with sadness, anger, disbelief, and longing. And lately, as I am learning to settle into my grief, wondering what I do next, in my life without Peter.
My grief hasn’t gone. It hasn’t even slowed. It has become a part of me like widowhood and the gravity pulling down at my body. I don’t like it, but I have to figure out how to move with it. I have to determine how to go through life without Peter. He’s not coming back. He’s not going to pull a Lazurus. He’s gone from me, from my life. And as much as all of it sucks, hurts and brings deep sadness to me every day, every single day, I need to move. I need to take breathe in the toxic world Life has handed me. I need to live in the life I have now.
Living now will be painful. I mean, it is already painful to live a life without Peter and I don’t think it’ll ever go away. Like ever. I loved the man, to the core of me, I loved him. However, like the athlete I once was, I have to push past the pain and play in the game of life. It’s the only way I can survive. For now, survival is all I have. Oh, there may be more and better than okay moments, even some giddy ones, even some joyous one. And soon, I hope, my emotions’ muscle memory will kick to switch from survival to living. It’s something other widows talk about, the eventuality of living again. That’d be nice. Of course, they also say there’s a long road to travel to get there. I am thinking I’m going to get carsick along the way, probably even bored, frustrated and impatient. So, my question is what do I do while I am on this road?
I don’t know if preoccupations will help. Maybe. I don’t know if avoiding emotions will do any good. Ha! That won’t happen. I am driving through all my feels sort of gal. I don’t think distractions will aid on this road of mine. Maybe. I don’t know if numbing myself with cleaning or watching TV or shopping or wine or writing or reading or fill-in-the-blank will be on any assistance. I don’t know what I will do or how anything will help since I’ve never been on this road before. I never wanted to take this route in my life. And yet, here I am, so I better buckle up. There’s no turning back. There’s no Peter to take this wheel. There’s no we, as a couple, to decide or support. It’s just me to face what lies ahead.
Sure, I have friends and my kids to help me along the way. But they can’t drive me through and they can’t even be in the car. That’s on me. That’s all me. See, the sucky, hurtful and painful part of grief is the same for everyone. No better, no worse, no different. What is different is the journey. Not better, not worse, just different. And it’s solitary. Grief is unique, and it’s a journey taken alone. It just is and so now, I have to figure out, on my own road, where to go and what to do now.
I have a book coming out. A tentative release date has finally been set. I am getting my house ready to sell in the Spring and buy a new, smaller place. I am thinking of perhaps renting somewhere else too. I have decisions to make about de-cluttering my house as it is full of a marriage, a marriage I no longer have. I have to make important financial decisions. I have to look at my social life as a suddenly single person. And I have to see my life, really see it, as it is and not as it once was, what I want it to be. These are all hard for me. I’m not used to be single-minded. I am not accustom basing choices and decisions on me rather than us. But this is the road I am traveling. I can’t get off of it because it’s the only one I have, the only one my life offers.
I know I have to get some of this done at the moment. My book is a must-do if I want to be successful. After the long and laborious task of creating the book, I want to be successful. I also know I don’t have to do all of this now, maybe not even a year from now. Only, for me, even if I don’t tackle them tomorrow or many tomorrows, I need, yes NEED, to make a mental note of all of them. It gives me a sense of control. After my life veering out of control, to grab it and steady it if only in mental notes, is healing for me. Maybe there’s even a sense of anticipation, something that wrestles with my guilt. Besides, Peter, the constantly moving man I married, would not want me to sit still. I don’t know if I could if I wanted to. I’m a little ADD myself.
The bottom line is I am beginning to look at what now’s. I am not done grieving. I don’t think I’ll ever be done. I am ready to have grief as my companion, one that moves with me instead of keeping me in one place. As painful and anxious and sad those movements are going to be, I think I am ready to try. Oh, I’ll have days and weekends where it’ll all be too much and I’ll stop moving again. Those are the times I have to conjure up Peter’s memories, and all he has set up for me, however painful, and continue on the road of unknows and what now’s.