Today, I’m getting down and dirty….with my house. I am going to start to pack up and clean and pack up and clean some more. After spending two days last week ugly crying with the hiccups that follows such cries, I know I am done here. I am done with this house.
From the beginning of my widowhood, I have written and spoken in lengthens about my difficulty making decisions. I have relied so much on Peter and he shined in this role of decision maker. He made great, sensible, viable, safe decisions and I nodded in agreement. It was our thing, a thing I thought would last well into our 80’s with me dying first. That was my plan. That had always been my plan. But, well, you know, plans don’t always go the way you want, and mine blew up.
I realize in a marriage there are compromises. I understand one person can get his/her/their own way over the other in one thing, then give in on another. And yes, in Peter and mine marriage this happened, sometimes on the things that mattered most to me. I wanted to stay home to raise our children. Sure, I worked part-time once my youngest was old enough. I did some daycare on the side and even, once, held three part-time jobs. For the most part, I had a work life and a day life where I was able to be a room mom, join the PTA, run my kids here and there for their activities and I adored it. It is still one of the best experiences in my life. Peter, in turn, worked his tail off at a job he wasn’t always happy in. He worked hard and even went on to get his Masters, not for his own fulfillment, but because it meant more income for our family. But when it came to most other decision, Peter made them. I let him. I told myself at the time, I didn’t care. Now, looking back with the 20/20 vision always given to backward glances, I think I should have cared more. Living without him has taught me, I should have cared more.
One of the first two things I asked aloud when I knew Peter died was how I was going to live without him. That was my loaded question. Of course it meant how am I going to live without the man who meant everything to me – best friend, spouse, co-parent, partner and lover. It meant how will I go on in my life without the person who loved me unconditionally. And it also meant the practical – how do I now make decisions, plan my life and stand on my own.
But, now, here it is, almost a year later, and I am here. I am standing. I survived and that has been my biggest accomplishment in my entire life. Yes, the death of a spouse is the hardest experience to survive, second only to the death of a child I would imagine…rather, can’t imagine…rather, don’t want to imagine. And Peter’s death came swiftly, without good-byes, last ‘I love you”s, final hugs. His death wasn’t the kind written in books or seen in movies. There was no beauty in any of it. So, yeah, his death was hard on me, as was his ‘what the fuck I do now” life I have lived since he died. I was never independent of him. The opposite is true. I was dependent, maybe too much, on him. Not only because we were so close, but also because he took care of me and I dug it. I dug it so much, I allowed it to seep into every part of my life. Now, he is gone, and so is my reliance on him. All of him and my attachment to him seeped through my pours like a bad whiff of alcohol after a hard day of drinking. He’s gone. It’s gone. I’m still here.
Which brings me to the second thing I said after I knew Peter died, actually, quite literally moments after I knew, I needed to sell the house. It’s an odd thing to think about right after finding out your person died, yet I did and I repeated it over and over. I was told it was normal to think of odd things when your spouse dies…by people who still had their spouses, but they must have read it somewhere. Some told me the shock must have spurred that thought in me. Yet for me, it was a truth my gut kicked in my head. I could not live in our house anymore because part of it died.
I wavered back and forth about the when the house will be sold. When I thought I was ready, it turned out I wasn’t. When I was ready, the overwhelming task of getting the house lived in for twenty-five years ready, kicked me back to ‘I can’t do this’ spot in my life. For a minute, I sat with the idea of remolding the house to make it my own. But I sat uncomfortably with it. No matter how I try to change it, no matter how much it may look different, the house would always be ours and I now need a me place to live.
I am not trying to run away from the memories of Peter. I did at one time because they were so painful to stay with, thus my apartment, Discovery. But really, I know I can’t run away from them and I don’t want to anymore. I don’t need to. They are a part of me and I can’t strip myself of them away no matter how far I get away from them. Peter and our memories will be with me for the rest of my life and I will hold both in the place in my heart open to the most hurt, the part that feels the deepest. That’s where he and them belong.
So, today, I am going to start packing and cleaning, cleaning and packing. I am sure I’ll be in tears. I’m sure I will scream into the emptiness now filling the house like I do almost every day, how unfair this was to me, to my kids, to life. But while I am screaming, I’ll be packing away clothes and towels. I’ll be sweeping up the mess left in the basement after his stuff was removed. I’ll be washing the windows. I’ll be preparing to sell the house, sell our house.
Where I am going? I’m working on that. Few people know, and I will let other know once it starts to move in a direction I’m comfortable to out myself. It’ll probably be another blog. Until then, Barkley and I will be looking at the all daunting tasks ahead of me, in a house of twenty-five years, in Peter and my house of twenty-five years, and forging ahead. Barkley has it easy. He has no thumbs, so he can’t help.