Over the years I grew comfortable viewing life, at least the part of it that came our way, through “our” eyes…..the two of us. That worked pretty well. But sadly, that no longer applies. I have been left with only my own failing eyesight to interpret and cope with an ever-shrinking world.
Truth to tell, I depended on her in so many ways, often without realizing or acknowledging my dependence. Now it seems that each day reveals some new hint of the impact she had on so many of us…..the ways she made our world whole and more satisfying.
As for me, it feels that I have been left without a compass. Where is my true north? Which way do I turn? For so long she was the one who gave me permission to be “me.” The “me” I became was the “me” she had set free.
Even today, weeks after the fact, there are moments when it seems as though there is no wind beneath my wings. And why wouldn’t I feel the way? After all, she was the one who kept our family, and me, on an even keel.
The world around us may look the same to unknowing eyes. But for some of us everything has changed……our children have lost their mother and I have lost my wife. Did anyone ever tell me about this descent into lethal loneliness? It may be altogether natural, and more common that we might expect. But it still hurts.
For years I have used these blog pages to proclaim the message of thriving in late-life. At the moment, however, it doesn’t feel like I am in a “thriving” mode. I tell myself this melancholy funk will pass with time…..but I am not sure I want it to. I don’t want to forget why I feel this way.
Yet, what I am dealing with is not a matter of grieving…..not as I understand it, not the way some folks suffer. The two of us knew what was coming. The whole family did. She spoke openly of her readiness to “move on.” After weeks of hurtful, but necessary conversations we had come to accept that sad reality…..as much as anyone can.
What I deal with today is not so much the fact of her leaving. If ever anyone deserved to be free of unrelenting pain it was her. I accept that release as a blessing. But what I am left to cope with is the yawning void her absence has created.
I know, of course, that she expects me to carry on. She made that very clear. But how does an eighty-five year old guy “carry on” in face of such loss? Why did she not warn me about the moments when I wonder why I should make the effort, when the reason for my “carrying on” has left the scene, leaving me adrift?
Fortunately, however, her legacy is not altogether sad and dark....not even close. She has left me with multiple reasons to stay the course. We call them our “kids,” “grandkids,” and “great-grandkids.” They are “reasons” that we ourselves created…..she and I…..the ones she nurtured so lovingly…..the ones she expects me to carry on for.
Of course there will be the harsh times when the reality of her leaving weighs heavily. But at the same time she has left me with work to do…. obligations to fulfill. At first glance it feels a bit like starting over…..returning to a time I can scarcely remember. But I know I must honor her expectations.
When I step back a bit I realize that it is just like her…..setting my table with a new menu of possibilities and responsibilities. And why wouldn’t she? She spent a lifetime expecting more of me, even as she let me decide what that meant.
In a very real way it feels like she is still on the job……doing her thing, working her magic.