Life Goes On…For Others

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Over the weekend, my phone chimed with messages and buzzed with phone calls about three times.  My sister called to check in on me. I had a nice, long conversation with my sis-in-law/friend, and my daughter called. Texts were volleyed back and forth between my kids and me. My son’s text short and direct, and my daughter’s longer in length. Both reflections of their personalities. My bestie sent me a few texts on Friday from her weekend getaway in Florida but then stopped once her weekend picked up. And that was it. Alone, in my basement sorting through twenty four years of memories, my cell phone remained mute, unlike six months ago when this entire nightmare of Peter’s death began.

Right after Peter died, people came running to help me, support me, comfort me. It’s only natural because I believe most people are good. And in Peter’s case, the amount of good people and their generosity amazed me, helped me, supported me. With the shocking suddenness of Peter’s death, there was a common sense of  disbelief shared by so many. And people truly mourned Peter for he was a beautiful, giving, unassuming man who touched everyone around him in his quiet, gentle ways.

But then, after awhile, their lives went on. They were over the shock. Their grief lessened. They started to live their own lives again in normality, routine, contentment, maybe even in happiness.  As it should be. As it has to be. As I want it to be for them. Sometimes, in the process of their own movement forward, they may think I’m moving with them. They think wrong.

My life moves in shocked, grief-stricken, baby steps. My normal, my routine, my contentment and my happiness has changed. Sometimes, I don’t have any of it. Sometimes, I have the opposite of all of it. And yet, people don’t know it. Okay, well, my blog kind of tells my story, but day to day, they don’t think about my live, nor should they, really. Since they’re healing, the once strong connection in grief is gone.

I am sure after awhile, people don’t know what to say or do anymore. They are confused how much more they can say or do. Their thoughts and prayers have gone onto something else, perhaps in their own lives, perhaps for the world at large. People can’t take up their time reaching out to me when there is so much more in their own. Six months is a long time for some, yet it’s still new to me. And since they haven’t stepped a toe into the grief pool of spousal loss, they don’t understand. They can’t understand.

Some people seem tired of my mourning, of hearing my story, of seeing my tears. They can be uncomfortable with it, impatient with it, frustrated with it, or all the above. In the past month, in the midst of spilling my guts on one of my horrible days, a person changed the subject mid-spill. Another said something about getting onto a happier subject. I think my blog lost readership has decreased these past few months. People don’t want to read about my journey anymore. Two people have questioned if the blog has run its course. I am sure it rose from their own opinion of it. And that’s okay. Really. (Thank you, by the way, for all of you who keep reading. I truly hope it’s been helpful.)

Listen, I get it. I do. I get bored, impatient, frustrated and all of the above with my own feelings of grief.  I wish I wasn’t this one-dimensional person Peter’s death created. I wish I had other things to offer in conversation. I wish my heart wasn’t so heavy on my sleeve and I could pretend.  So, yeah, I get it. And believe me, I attempt swipes at my feelings in hopes of batting them away because I realize they are pesky and persistent.  I try, yet I can’t succeed it seems.

Hey, I am sure people want the old me back. They want the old us back, void of grief.  I understand if they do because a small part of me wants it too. Yet, most of me doesn’t because I gave up on dreams and wishes and wants once Peter died. Instead, I am learning to deal in the concrete, the what is, the here-I-am’s…uncomfortable and difficult as it all is for me.

The new me, as soon as I figure it out fully, will lose some people in my life because the once-was Betsy is not coming back.  Perhaps they know she’s already gone. She left the minute half of her was ripped away. The once funny, social Betsy, has been replaced by someone so introspective and sometimes, serious, she’s the anti-Betsy. People don’t like change. People don’t like the reasons for the change. And if the reason people were drawn to me is now gone, well then, so are they.

I am not writing about this today to gain sympathy or pity from anyone. I am not being passive aggressive when I say I am not angry at anyone. I am not expecting to be the focal point of anyone else’s life. And I am not holding any type of score sheet on anyone. I want to make this all clear.  Yes, I could and maybe should, reach out as well. I do have some hesitation with fears of disappointment or rejection. It’s my fragile sensitivity right now.

So, here’s the thing. The fewer phone calls and texts hurt and can trigger a pity party in me.  It’s painful to feel alone. Yet, I love the people in my life. I love them now like I did when they came running those first days and weeks after Peter died. I’ll always love them because of their immediate support. So, I want everyone to know this was written today because I needed to write it, today.  Because I am being me, what I am always being, and what I am being is honest and raw in this blog, with some of my overly sensitive personality thrown in.

As with everything in this blog about widowhood,  I am trying to explain, and understand myself, another facet of widowhood – the reasons people in a widow’s life leave or distance themselves.  The reasons my phone doesn’t chime or buzz as often. They’re not wrong reasons. These people aren’t horrible. There’s not a purposeful break or timeout, or gap in these relationships. Nor is there an intentional hurt on the part of anyone – remember, people are basically good and the people in my life are outstanding. What it comes down to it just is. It just is another painful bump on this reluctant journey.