Taking a Walk With Him

effectsToday marks the sixteenth week since Peter died and I’m not feeling great.  I’m not feeling sick, just kind of blah and wanting to spend the day in bed. The weather is gloomy and I’m sure that’s not helping. Probably grief or maybe just a bad day. I mean, do I have to blame everything on grief? Maybe I do, or should. I’m not really sad though, only tired and weary. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, I’m feeling kind of blah today.

Yesterday, I took a walk around the wetlands behind my house. It’s the same area so many people walked after Peter’s memorial service, his favorite songs blaring from a portable speaker. The walking path loops around some ball fields, a fitness course, a park, and wetlands. It’s a beautiful area. I tried to capture some of it in this photo today. Peter walked the are often, so many times with me at his side. He also cross-country skied there, me never at his side for that.  He enjoyed the area with its frogs, birds, pussy willows, trees and green area. He took it as a shortcut into a government-owned area full of bison, deers, coyotes and spectacular views of nature Peter dug nature and all it held. He found his peace among all of its beauty.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. It was one of those perfect, crisp Autumn days where a constant inner debate raged on as to whether or not to wear extra clothing. I walked and talked and talked some more to Peter without caring about people’s judgments on my insanity.  I mean, there weren’t many out – probably watching the Chicago Bears lose – but I ignored those who were and kept talking to Peter. I talked about the kids, missing him, even the Bears, and I talked most about moving on.

As much as I am ready to move to my escape apartment in the city, I’m not sure of when I want to let go of the home Peter and I made together. I know it’s early, but the thought has been in my brain since the nightmare began. One of the first things I said after Peter died, right after my question on how am I going to live without him, was “I’m selling the house”.  I knew then, kind of instantly, and I know, kind of always, this house is way too big for me, just me.

The house’s inside is huge, the outside is massive in terms of upkeep, and the memories, our memories, are busting out the walls. It’s too much. I know this. My kids know this. I think Peter would know this. Yet, it’s our home. I understand why some women, and I suppose men, don’t ever give up a home made in a marriage. I do. No judgment. I know for me though, I can’t. I just can’t keep it. For me, holding onto it would tether me to a past which would certainly impede my growth…again, FOR ME.  And so, I needed to tell Peter that in a few days, I am taking steps to get it ready to sell. Not now, not right away, but soon. It’s an odd feeling to begin this process. I think about the last months of my senior year in high school and that feeling of not wanting to leave because I loved it so much. Familiarity has its comfort, yet I know, like I did when I was seventeen, I need to leave.

Before Peter died, we discussed selling. I think I wanted it more than Peter. I wanted to downsize and Peter went back and forth. One day he talked about other places to live after retirement, the next, he reminding me of the mortgage left on the house. He did start to do small things to get the house ready to sell. He did them at Peter’s speed which meant a painted wall here, crown molding there. It wasn’t hesitation on his part, rather how Peter moved,  at a slow and steady pace, and prioritizing the fixer-uppers between his hobbies and adventures. I always said Peter would not die of a heart attack or stroke. And I was right.

I admired his laid-backness even now as I live in a house where projects are started or almost complete. I was angry at first of the patched-up wall never painted, or the 90’s wallpaper border never stripped, but then realized, that was Peter. I know. You’re thinking I could have done these things. And yes, I could have. Even now, I could. But my confidence lies in written words and character development and dialogue and ideas and baking pies and decorating. I’m not a detailed painter, or a plumber, or whatever. I’m learning, somewhat, and will learn more. But for now, these are not skills I ever honed, nor am I in a rush to learn. Besides, when Peter was alive,  it probably would have started fights between us if I stepped in. He liked to do things his way. Which really, were near perfect. He was amazingly handy.

So now, I kind of laugh about it, the way couples do in the most loving way about the other’s idiosyncrasies. I do hope it’s not too embarrassing when the realtor looks at the house to tell me all I have to do. And, sure, I wonder what the remodeling people who will have to come in to finish off what Peter started, or didn’t start will think.  But really, in the end, I laugh with a swelled heart and a “that was my Peter”.

As I walked yesterday, I stopped a few times to look up in the sky to see if a hawk flew overhead, you know, my sign of him. None flew. My friend said Peter didn’t need to show me he was with me because I was already talking to him. I suppose she’s right. Maybe a hawk would have interrupted the conversation. Besides, I saw hawk yesterday morning, flying past my car windshield when I drove out of the parking lot after seeing my mom. That was Peter’s approval. He always liked when I saw my mom.

When I came back home from the walk, came back to our home, I felt at peace with my decision, with my uncertain timeline, with the feel of Peter. His essence will forever remain. He will forever be in my children, in our children. The memories made between the walls of our home will come with me, wherever I go. Memories are portable. And yeah, it’ll hurt to sell the house of memories, yet in order for me to move onto my new life, I have to. Saying good-bye makes hello possible. At sixteen weeks, I’m getting ready for the good-byes and learning to say hellos. Peter gets it. I know because I talked to him about it yesterday.