I’m starting to pack for my move downtown. Some of you thought I already moved, but no, I’m still here…for two more weekends anyway. It’s been somewhat, I don’t know, dare I use the word “fun” to pack up for my move. I couldn’t put a finger on the exact word to describe how I’m feeling until a friend of mine put a finger on it for me. Last night, at dinner, he said, “there’s a certain freedom for you now”. And he was amazingly accurate. There is.
Now, I probably don’t have to say this, but I will anyway for all who are agasped by my word freedom. Of course I would trade it in if it meant I could have Peter back! It’s not something I wanted. And his death didn’t allow freedom, it just gave it to me…a side effect from the nightmare of his death. It sits alongside all the other byproducts including grief, despair, uncertainty, loss of faith, and questions. As with those, I didn’t call for it or wished for it. No, with the rest, it broke off when Peter’s death left me shattered.
See, in marriage, there are certain compromises. In a successful one – and I’d like to think Peter and I had a very successful marriage – one partner’s needs shouldn’t be more important than the other. One partner shouldn’t dominate, in any way, over the other. Throughout the eb and flow of marriage, sacrifices have to be made for the benefit of the partnership, the betterment of the pair. On a simple level that means serving steak once in a while when you want fish, or deciding on beige when you want blue and he wants brown. On a real level, it means living in the ‘burbs because it’s a half-way point between small-town living and city living. On a much deeper level, it means ignoring his warts because he’s accepted yours.
Sometimes, in order for a partnership, a marriage to work, you give up some of your freedoms. With each decision, you have to consider the other. And when kids come, forget about it. This is not to say you can’t do things to better yourself or make decisions for your own gains. It is to say, you do have to think about the others in the family and work out the logistics of it all. Sometimes that means sacrifices.
For example, when Peter worked on his masters, he did so with his family in mind and what it would mean financially. His work was paying for it and our income would change because of it. However, during the years of work and study, Peter wasn’t home too often. In fact, once he got his master’s, he gave me a ring as a thank you for my sacrifice. But that’s what we both chose to do, for the betterment of us. I couldn’t have been an at-home mom if it weren’t for Peter’s income. Did I like his long hours? Um, no. Did he? I don’t think so. Yet what we liked was put in the back seat of what we needed at the time.
This is a long way of saying, now, there is no partner for me to consider. Yes, it hurts like hell to be lonely, without him, even not having to check with him. I miss asking for opinions, the discussion of compromise. I miss him. I will always miss him. But he’s not here, won’t ever be here again. And now, moving into my getaway place downtown while I decide what my life will look like without Peter, affords me the freedom to explore my options. To remove myself from the place where memories draw me back into the once-was perhaps blind me to the what-can-be is something to get excited about. My tomorrows are untouched and waiting for me to sculpt them, the way I want them to look.
Of course, I will always carry Peter’s voice in my head, the one of reason. I’m sure it’ll do battle with my own voice of emotion. It’s how we rolled together for thirty years. I know I’ll need his reasoning skills, sometimes. I don’t have to have it, but it’ll be nice to conjour up when my always scattered mind goes there. Or maybe it’s my time to listen to my emotions and see where those take me, perhaps to a new me. See, that’s the new freedom in all of this. I get to be the me I am meant to be now, knocking on sixty’s door, without my Mister, my Peter, the person I checked with when we were a pair. I’m a solo act now and as such, I’m up on this stage alone for the world to see. Scary as hell? You bet. Lonely? Sure. Sad? Uh-huh. Freeing? Yeah, that too.
So, today, while I stare at the mess in my family room and start to pack my boxes, I will box up all the stuff for my new place. As selfish as it sounds, and I’m struggling with how it sounds, the lamps, the sheets, the shower curtains, all of it, will be what I bought, what I decided on, what I wanted. No asking. No compromising. No sharing. It’s all for me. And when I move and unpack those boxes, I will be opening up a new beginning, a potential, a freedom I never asked for, never wanted, and yet, here it is and here I go.