Today is four months since Peter died. It seems so fast, yet forever ago. The speed perception is from the amount I have done in these past months. The forever ago is all about the time spent away from him. In either thought, every day I miss him, I’m lonely, I conjure up strength, I worry about our kids, and I’m proud of me. All of these rolled up into one hard and messy ball of grief.
Today, I want to take my blog from the beginning to this point and reflect on what has become of my life thus far. It might seem brutal, and it might seem sappy, possibly pretentious and self-centered, but it will be honest… like I’ve been in the beginning. So here I go:
1). This is has been the hardest class I ever have taken – and I’m including French, Physics and Economics here – and the lessons have been harsh. Yet what I’ve learned has given me the most individual growth and it’s only been four months. I’ve learned more about me and my abilities, my tolerance, my patience, my impatience, my survival mode, and my inner power. I’m amazed and proud of what I have accomplished, and how far I have gone…without total defeat. Sure, I lost some battles, but not the war and I never surrendered. I think the only times I’ve felt as accomplished was when I carried and birthed life. But then again, I had Peter by my side. Not this time. This time I’ve had amazing friends and wonderful kids. And they have held me up during some really important time. In the end, though, it’s come down to me.
2). I have looked at the little things and realize they don’t matter. If I stand in a slow line in Target, ah well, I’ve survived worse…THE WORSE. If there’s a traffic jam, yeah, well, crap happens. If I burn a meal, it doesn’t mean anything in comparison to the burnt hell I’ve been living through. Of course, I’m not always this dismissive. I mean, the man at my bank who took forEVER to complete something, did get on my last nerve but in a can-I-trust-him-with-my-money sort of way. And yeah, I worry about my kids all the time, but I mean, I am a Mom. That didn’t die when Peter did. For the most part, I don’t bother and if I do, I shake them off like a dog after a swim. Sometimes, it takes longer to shake, but I’m still doing it. Peter’s death proved to me annoying little things are whatevers in life.
3). At the same time, little things do matter. When I’m down and The Voice makes me happy, well there you go. If my son drops by, even with his laundry and a quick chat, I’m good. If my daughter talks and giggles with me for ten minutes, I’m thankful. If a friend remembers my pain from the night before – always in the night, right? – or I needed a hello, wow indeed. I don’t take these little things for granted anymore. I need pick-me-ups and they come in little packages sometimes.
4). I think I overcompensate with my kids. I think I am overly sensitive to what they say, how they say it, their actions, their nonactions. Okay, I know I am. It comes from a place of loneliness, of wanting to protect their already fragile hearts, of being a mom tenfold since I feel like I need to be double the parent, their only parent. And yes, they’re adult children. They have lives they live separate from me, even their grief is separate and different. They should. They have to. I want them to. Yet, their father died and every motherly instinct kicks in me like hormones I thought I lost after pregnancy. And I know, my grief cannot be compared to theirs. I can’t project my feelings onto them. And yet, I do. It’s only been four months. I’m trying this letting go thing, the thing I was good at before Peter died. (Remember, my daughter is five hours away and both went a loooong way to college.) But now, with Peter gone, all I want to do is hold them, keep them, smother them. I am hoping outside this home of memories, all of our memories, I release them into the world that’s theirs, not mine, and be there when they turn back. I have to, once again.
4). I’m doing a fairly good kick-ass job of letting go myself. I know, since the beginning I knew, the PeterandBetsy is gone. It died when Peter died. I am a solo act. I am not a part of a twosome. I deny it. I hated it. I got angry at it. And maybe for some, it’s too soon for many of my letting-go decisions. I’m not those some. I’m me. And really, it’s none of their business how I heal, how I move on, nor is it my business what some think. The only time is when some make it my business by telling me, but I’ve learned to say, ‘yeah, well, this is me’. My defensiveness has dropped. I have accepted how I am getting where I am getting. I will say, most people have no opinion, or have strong ‘you, go, girl’. I’m not moving faster or slower. I moving my pace, in a lane most people I know haven’t traveled, that has no speed limit and is different at every corner, with every driver.
5). I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again since this reoccurring thought is constant in my life. It is different to experience the death of your spouse, your partner in life. The grief is no worse, no better, just different. I will say and have learned, the everydayness is probably worse….other than the loss of a child which I can’t even fathom and I have lived my worse. Every day I am acknowledging I am alone in my decision. Every day, I do something that makes me say aloud “Damn it! I miss him.” Every day, I cry out in frustration of doing his task, his chore, his responsibilities. Every day, I get up thinking, “another day without him”. See, my life didn’t grow separate from him in the past thirty-plus years. My life grew with and because of him. I am mindful of other’s feelings when it comes to grief. I am. I feel sorry for the pain death has caused them. I understand. I’ve been saddened by other deaths – my beloved aunts, my grandmother, friends, mother-in-law, and of course, my father. I grieved them and sometimes, grieved them long and hard. It was painful. I still think about them. But I continued on in life without them because my life was separated from theirs. Yes, I am continuing now, but not without deep pain and loneliness in my life because now, half of my life has been ripped away. The life I built with Peter is gone. There is no more continuation of it. And that for me is the difference.
6). As excited as I am to move to my escape apartment and write more during my day – I’ve never stopped writing – I hate this packing crap. It goes against everything disorganized in me and let me tell you, that’s a lot. I’m glad no one helped because explaining myself is exhausting in of itself. I have methods to my madness…or my methods drive me mad, I forget. Anyway, I may keep the apartment forever because I just hate packing.
7). Tomorrow, I move in, away, toward. I move. And I keep moving. I look to the apartment as a relaxation from all the stuff reminding me of Peter, frustrating me about Peter, in the basement and the garage. Relaxation from the memories on the walls, in the closets, in the smells and in the feels of the house. Relaxation from remembering what once was in a community I so love. And relaxation from all that has happened these past four months, the nightmare I’ve lived in, through, continuing. Yeah, tomorrow I’m moving, coming back every now and again to my small town, but moving. I need this. I just do.
8). Someone said to me the other day, ‘you’re starting a new chapter in your life’. I responded, ‘oh, honey, I’m starting a new book’. The other book was about Peter and me. All the chapters were written about our life together. This new one, a sequel sure, and it will have lots and lots of mentions of Peter – I can’t ever forget him – but it’ll be different. How I don’t know yet and I may never know until it’s finished. There is no outline, no pitch, no synopsis. It’s being written as I live now. I have to admit, it’s been starting out kind of sad and slow. Eventually, though, I hope it’s a page-turner. We’ll see how it goes in another four months.