More Lessons Learned, Alone

I went to my apartment Discovery for a few days. I preach safety and consideration in these days of COVID, and those are the reasons I came here. See, between the junk haulers coming last week, and the people in to repair the never-ending fix of my burst pipes pre-COVID, I had to let the dust settle, or in this case, the COVID virus die.

Discovery has new meaning for me now that I’m learning to live with the wound on my heart. In the months after Peter’s death, I wanted Discovery, needed to Discovery. My hometown where Discovery is located called me back to heal, reflect, sob, shout, be a mess and figure out next moves. Discovery was also supposed to kiss my pain and make it all better, only it didn’t happen that way. It didn’t happen at all. Instead, Discovery served as the salt poured over my damaged self, a salt I needed poured to feel the unbearable pain, not so much to heal – healing won’t come for a long time if ever – but in order to learn to move with it. See, that’s the way it is in Widowhood. You just learn to live and move with the agony of missing. And so Discovery pained me, yes, but it also stilled me. It quieted me enough to hear my own agony, feel my own emptiness, see my own forever life without him. Discovery was my mirror to look into and see all of what I was then, what I am now, what I will be without Peter in the reflection. Then COVID hit.

COVID forced me to run back to the home Peter and I built. I needed to be closer to family and friends for the just-in-case scenario. And when I went, I sat in a house that held all the memories of Peter, a man who would have been there with me had he not been killed. I lived every hour of the days in a house that held the reminders of why I was alone. Of course I had family and friends reaching out to me, but, at the start and the end of the day, all the moments in between, I lived in the thoughts of how this is not the way my life was supposed to be. Finally, when I grew tired of the thoughts and feelings Alone game me, I grew angry. Alone had become partners with Grief and I hated them both. So, I rebelled. I started to clean the clutter in the house, not to erase Peter, rather to fight against the once-was to move toward the what-will-be.

A few days ago, with the acceptance that Alone, like Grief, was not leaving, I returned to Discovery. This time, I had as my companion my dog, Barkley. And it is different with the dog. More importantly, it is different with me. These past few days, I have sat and stared for hours at the vastness of Lake Michigan before me, into the buildings across from me, and at the Chicago River below me. I have sat in my thoughts sometimes, and with an emptied out head other times. I have put on hold the decisions for the future to make room for the here and now. I have drank my tea or sipped my wine and took in the beauty of what I have before me. And yes, I have done all of it with the ache of missing Peter, with Alone along side me instead of in front of me obstructing the views of my here and now, and thoughts of my future.

Last night, as I watched the city fade into night, I talked with Peter. I told him how I picked Discovery with a view of the lake so I can stay connected to him as I watched the sail boats glide along the water, the same type of boats he once captained. I told him that I renewed my lease to feel the city’s movements during the busy summer months. I laughed when I told him now, with COVID, both never happened. And I told Peter so goes my life, never as planned. I didn’t say it in a self-pity sort of way, more as a mocking, and-so-it-is sort of way. I saw his crooked grin in my mind as we always laughed at our unpredictability. Like when I asked him to promise me he wouldn’t die before me and he chuckled with a response of ‘I can’t make that promise’. I suppose nothing in life is ever promised.

As the lights in the building around me lit up like candles when the dark of night fell, I sat in thought. I can’t rush Life because when I try to hurry to the end or sprint through the pain, when I attempt to race past my present realities to try to make promises, Fate, God, the Universe, steps in to say, slow it down a bit. Take it one day at a time. Take the nows given and do your most with them. And perhaps if I do, Life will unfold as it should. I’m not sure my impatience makes me the best student in all of this, but I do know, Discovery is trying to be my best teacher and I am open to learn more.