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There is a restlessness growing inside me. It encourages me to keep on, even when my spirit is questioned. It warns me to avoid too frequent of glances backward less I will trip on what’s ahead of me. It reminds me of my reality often with a shrug of ‘okay, so now what’. And it gets aggressive when I slip into ‘what-if’s’, ‘once-were’s’ and ‘I wishes’.

This restlessness peaked out during the start of COVID. I thought boredom and claustrophobia pushed it out for an appearance. And maybe they did. Yet, now, I think it was during COVID it needed its start, a need to move on, to show me what and who I can be without Peter. Being alone with yourself, inside your memories and thoughts, or, in my case, with a mind always in constant motion, will bring out a restless desire for change, for different.

These past two months, my restlessness has grown stronger. It has crept into my nighttimes as I lie in bed, the crickets serenading me with their evening song. It makes me think, really to focus on, my possibilities. I see, in my mind’s eyes, the paths I need not only to take, but to take without concern or fret about people’s opinions or feelings. Sometimes, in the daylight hours, this restlessness makes me want to snap at people in a ‘this-is-who-I-am-now’ impatience, an impatience growing from the want for others to see me now, not who I once was. Unfair of me, I know. The once-was is what they know in me. I am only now introducing them to the how-I-am-becoming.

The other night, I sat around a neighbor’s fire pit. A few of the neighbors talked and shared about their lives in the midst of this pandemic. It was a nice night to be out, and the want for other human beings was a common thread among us. I told a story of ripping out old insulation from my basement. I spoke about the abandoned vermin nests, dried up wasps nests and insect eggs that came down with it. It was a gross undertaking, but one expected in a basement of a certain age, I suppose…especially from a home near wetlands. One of my neighbors had a slight disbelief it was me, really me, who tore it all down and swept it all out. I don’t blame her. I held that same disbelief after it was done. And, like so many other people in my life who only knew me with Peter, she only knows me as the Peter-reliant person, the person I have been for these past twenty-eight years. But my restlessness is not letting me stay that person with reminders of ‘you can’t anymore because he’s not here anymore’. This friend also expressed pride in getting it done and my restlessness became arrogant with a whispers of ‘see’.

When Peter first died, I didn’t want to change. I wanted to be the same. I blocked out any thoughts of entertaining change in me. My life was so out of control with drastic changes, I wanted, no needed, to remain the same. And so I avoided anything that may test my boundaries or demonstrate my need to change. I kept my house as is for a while. I allowed my kids to take over some of the finances. I existed in a fog and, since I couldn’t see ahead of me, I didn’t try. It wasn’t a bad thing. It was a survival thing. Oh, I got an apartment, but only to escape what I didn’t want to face – the memories of him and the house which was us-centered. Then Restlessness came and forced me to look at the inevitable, the me that has to change, to emerge, because Peter was gone now. I hated Restlessness at first. I ignored it. But it was persistent and I gave in.

So, now I live with this Restlessness as a part of me. This part is challenging me to take down insulation and all the icky stuff with it. It has shoved me on the path of creating my own living space and in doing so taking me away a house way too big for me, a house with way too many stairs for this aging body, a Peter-and-me house, a house I love but need to release. It has put a fire in me to allow this new person to emerge while deafening me to the possibilities of criticism along the way. It has giving me permission to make mistakes, to learn from them, and, more importantly to grow from them. And, it has told me over and over, you are not the same person anymore.

When I started in widowhood, I mourned Peter and all he meant. I mourned our everyday routines, our intimacy, the ache in my soul being without him. Then the mourning shifted to grieving my reliance upon him and hating I had to give it all up. Finally, Restlessness invaded me and said, okay, now what. Thee has been a new grief in this as walking alone, without Peter, can be painful at times. Yet, I know these are my steps now and I take them in anxious hesitation with a splash of impatience. I walk them in a certain reserve that is both scary and exciting, especially when I glance back to see what I have accomplished. But I can’t look back for too long. Restlessness has laid out so much more ahead of me. And you know, it’s looks like a much brighter route.