I never figured my life would be delicate strands of tautness woven into a lace, strong yet able to be unraveled by a broken thread.
It’s been a year since his death. He was the major thread of my last 30 years. Since then I’ve examined parts of my life under a microscope, sometimes publicly, at least the parts I wished to share. Actually, the parts I was compelled to write in order to make sense of things. It’s funny how the death of your partner can change everything in your life, propelled by the need to place distance (in my case) between the cascading effects of the events which I never could have predicted I find myself in.
You might think you are prepared for the day you will be alone. I know I thought I was simply because he had a terminal illness. I watched his father die from it, so I knew what to expect. However, he didn’t die from the family disease. The joke was on us. A cruel joke, but indicative of the arrogance we humans have. You might think you know how you will behave. You may think you know the family and how you will be able to rely on others around you to act. It honestly doesn’t matter what you you think when it comes down to the reality. Life can and will turn on you in a dime. You spend your life thinking your every action will result in your plan coming true. It doesn't matter what that plan is, it will change. Of this I am certain.
Hah. Life is not so neat. I know, I’m in the middle of somethings I never could have imagined would be going on. Fortunately not all bad.
Time to back up. Last year I had a non-birthday. It was the beginning of life as I knew it coming to an end, and the ending of his life. There is such a finality about death. It shook me to the core. I know I am not alone in feeling this. The mystery of we survivors merit blogs, books, movies, anyway in which a person can be expressive of the pain. I think the pain makes me want to feel pleasure even more. But even when I do have pleasure enter my life I cannot help but be startled by the thought my husband will walk in at any moment. There is a moment of guilt which washes over me...guilt for living. I realize I must at this moment stop and take a reality check. This happens less frequently now, but I am amazed at how his death has given me a whole new appreciation about living.
This year I planned a trip to be away for this birthday, gone from our home, the memories of last year's horrible 18 days beginning on my birthday. I celebrated in Hawaii...in Waikiki, a place we really had no joint memories. It was deliberate to go to an island we did not favor, and I'm glad I did. I was able to do things I never would have done with him, things I did not even know I missed. That was the 62nd birthday gift I was able to gift myself with. How truly special, how full of life I was, I am!
Waikiki Days, Sheila © 2010
Sometimes I think about how delicately I have woven together the pieces of my life into this new one. Now I am an artist, actually selling my artwork and finding a new way for myself. I get sad sometimes when I realize I don't have Lance to come home in the evening and get to show my latest project or check from my sales. But then I stop and do another kind of reality check, and realize that if he had not died I wouldn't be doing these drawings. Out of the ashes rose my personal phoenix. I know he would love the idea. I know he believed in me.
I suppose of all of the lessons the experience of the past year has taught me, it all boils down to just living in the present, doing the things I am able to do and to let go of the little things I have no control over anyway.
To let the small things annoy me would be as though I had hanging threads from the lace I have created. If I pull any one of them it would unravel all of the progress I have made.
I know in my heart he wished the best for me, exactly what we gave to each other in life. If you take the “n” out of Lance, I am left with Lace. Bits of strength woven together through the experiences of the last year. These are the "gifts" Lance gave to me through his death.
Trust me, life is good...if you let it be. Lance taught me this. He lived that way himself. Choose to appreciate what we might not always see first.