Crossing a Bridge

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I’m back! It seems a long time since I was typing away with my inner voice dictating, narrating my life. But here I am. It’s mid-morning and I actually slept in. Well, I would have officially if the phone hadn’t rang. Nonetheless, I slept later than usual. I haven’t gotten dressed and I don’t feel like I have to. Except it is a beautiful warm and sunny day and I just may have to wander outside. There is nothing finer in the Pacific Northwest than a sunny day! Everyone smiles.

I am in between. Now nearing three months since Dave’s death, I am sensing the routine of the world – both the outside and my own. Life is going on. I have settled into a pace of my life as a soloist, albeit slower that I’d wish. I heard his voice in a dream (or a visitation?) this morning, strangely comforting and bringing me peace.

I know I am in between because I could turn on some audio recordings and listen, but I don’t dare. I am not ready. I know I am in between because one time I can tell people my husband died without a blink and another I can only think about him and my eyes well up with tears. I know I am in between because I am taken aback when my cell phone alarm sounds and I go instantly back to the middle of the nights caring for him since we set the alarm for around-the-clock medications. (I must change this tune!) I know I am in between because of my confusion when Dave’s son, who shares his name, phoned and the caller ID made me wonder what was happening, where he was and how this could happen (in a very split second response). I know I am in between when Leah and I ran across a funny new reality show (Duck Dynasty) that Dave would have loved and I felt the bittersweet thought of magical thinking for if only.

Yet, to be in between means there is movement from somewhere to somewhere: from caregiver to him to caregiver for myself; from wife to widow; from us to me. I have come from pain and sadness to coping and acknowledging the good days; from consuming thoughts of memory to on occasion relevance. I don’t forget Dave died, I live with knowing that he isn’t here and won’t be back. I don’t forget him, because I hold him so close in my heart as the person I am, and I have become and I will continue to be.

With in between there is a place to go. And I am on my way. It is as much a plan as a feeling. It is a choice. I suppose I could stay in between for a long time, and maybe I will in many respects by the nature of my work and life and deep autonomic responses to loss and memories. (I’ve not given up thoughts of my dad or grandparents after many years since their deaths.) That remains to be seen. But I am really looking forward now, and I choose to see a positive outcome for the continuation of how I’ve lived and what I’ve learned so far. I am excited in the belief  of what I can and will accomplish. I am simply sorry that I won’t be able to share this part of my life with Dave.

I am on my way, but I still have a bumpy road in front of me. I am sure to still find grief for Dave included along the way, but not as a barrier. If in between is a bridge, this one is short (and I think that is because the road leading up to it was long and direct) as I walk onto the new path ahead. My focus is now on my health and my future; both have their unknowns and uncertainty and potential to entertain me. I have much to look forward to (in spite of some “feeling old” moments!). But in my heart I know that I am not walking forward without the foundation of my past to support me, and of course that includes bringing Dave along for the ride. I’m leaving the sadness behind (not necessarily all the tears) and carrying the good memories and ongoing love with me. I am not alone going forward, and I am not leaving anyone behind. But I am stepping off this bridge and into my future.

(Note to my readers: Surgery for my SCDS has been scheduled and I anticipate less writing for now as I divert my energy to preparation and recovery. This includes getting my affairs in order, especially since all my current assets default to contingent order of distribution until I update the papers… a subject I do hope to write about before long! Death and taxes and the paperwork associated with it all is a given for each of us. Some things can be prepared, but some you just don’t learn until you go through it.)

PS. Friday, May 11, 2012

It is important for me to note aloud my recognition that that I am only crossing this bridge – perhaps it is the separation bridge – now. I see that there will be many more bridges to cross down the path: significant dates and holidays; cleaning out the closets; removing his name from accounts; having to keep it on others; and just all the little reminders of a life lived and loved, etc. As I write and stand outside myself while I feel within myself I have to make sure I don’t hurry any processes, but at the same time honor all the work and attention I have funneled into my grief already, not only since Dave’s death but long before as his caregiver during all three cancers and particularly since he was enrolled in hospice service.

Each person’s journey through grief is uniquely their own and in their own time. There are many factors going into how difficult or seemingly easy the road for each individual. What is known is that everyone must grieve (process) whenever there is a significant loss in order to be the healthiest and happiest we can be as humans in any given moment.

4 replies
  1. Ellane Chandler
    Ellane Chandler says:

    I’ll never forget that knowing way perfect strangers smile at each other on beautiful days in the Pacific Northwest! I used to get such a kick out of that. I cannot believe it has been three months. You have already come so far. You are walking through the strange in-between with such grace and alertness, your perceptions and description of it so clear. Certainly writing works its magic here – that way that putting something into words makes its path more negotiable somehow. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you get ready for the surgery. Will you be letting us know when it is?


    Ellane Chandler
    Asheville, NC

    • joan
      joan says:

      Thank you, Ellane.

      Hmm, “the path more negotiable.” I like that! Yes, I (or a designee) will update here after surgery.

  2. Connie Fenner
    Connie Fenner says:

    You have spoken so eloquently about your journey and I know it helps you, but it also helps the rest of us as well. The way you are learning to blend the past, present and future seems to bring optimism to your daily life and appreciation for your life with Dave. Thanks again for letting us in on your thoughts as they are helping us put our lives in perspective and live in the moment.
    Enjoy the gorgeous weather. Have a great Mother’s Day.
    Good luck with your surgery.


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