Everything I have learned about myself this past year has made me braver, somehow. I have no husband, my family is moving on as should be, and I have stepped back into my career wholeheartedly. It all feels so scary but strangely okay.
I have been standing in my dark corridor of grief for a very long time. It is no longer comfortable, nor do I want to stay here where I once needed to be. Given the fact that I am the first in my circle of friends and family to lose a spouse, there were no pearls of wisdom in the lived experiences to gather from them. I turned to the Internet and met others like me, who knew this pain.
1. There were those who had been doing this for a long time and had grown from their experiences, sharing the basic wisdom of living in the moment, breathing in the instant. Transforming and transcending.
2. There were others who seemed to be frozen in their grief – for years. Transforming also, for I was certain that this was not what I wanted for myself. Actually, in my deepest of grief, it was scary to think that I would be feeling the pain for a very long time.
3. Lastly, there were those who would avoid their grief, avoiding the pain. I was often saddened by their choice. Having lived this avoidance and its consequences when my father passed away, I knew grief would someday come tap them on their shoulder.
So many choices.
I often likened this to the passage in the story of Alice in Wonderland where Alice has a conversation with the Cheshire Cat when faced with the many doors:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
” – so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
I don’t recall the precise moment when I came to the conclusion that I had choices. I simply remember being faced with these:
1. I could choose a door not knowing where it will lead, with the knowledge that no amount of grieving would restore Bill to me in the here and now,
~ or ~
2. I could give up and remain frozen in this corridor that somehow and in some ways led me to believe that it kept me in touch with Bill,
~ or ~
3. I could simply let the wind take me again and have no control over my destination repeating the errors of avoiding the pain when my father passed away. Grief did come calling, demanding my attention plus interest.
During these last few weeks I seem to have opted to walk through door #1. Step by step, I have wandered back into the world. Entering a new chapter, trying out my new ego and listening to my new voice strengthened by the trials and successes of this journey. The sky seems brighter, and I am now consoled by the simple things such as the sound of my lone loon calling every morning and every evening, by the sounds of the rustling and now falling leaves and the warmth and restoring wonders of the sun.
Not so long ago, something new awakened in my heart. I would not exactly say that it was happiness, nor did I feel filled with eagerness to live each day; it was more a kind of calm readiness, a longing to be at peace, to be happy.
Although, it is sometimes difficult to stay focused in this new and unknown environment, where there seems to be a better balance, inner peace and a fading of pain: I am here to stay. I have invited Bill to accompany me on this path, and I am excited to see where it will lead.
“To find a safe journey through grief to growth does not mean one should forget the past. It means that on the journey we will need safe pathways so that remembrance, which may be painful, is possible.” ~ Donna O’Toole