My Journey of Healing

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So many changes.

The only constant is change, I’ve heard. I believe it.

I’m thinking about the way people react to change (How I react to change). Some people embrace it, others avoid it. I think Dave didn’t like change ever since he was a boy. He moved from house to house and sometimes between families. He moved around from state to state and house to house with his first family. It wasn’t until we married that he spent more than a few years in one place, in one house. We lived in our first home for twelve years. I know that stability was one aspect of our life that he really loved. But after twelve years, my desire to move was disruptive to both Leah and Dave. I needed change. I needed growth. But there was resistance and fear and upset at the time. I had the urge to move, so we did. (As it turned out, the following year the Nisqually ‘Quake was devastating to the house. We were fortunate to move when we did. Always follow your instinct!)

Dave and I lived together longer in this house I occupy than in our first home. Now I am here without Dave. Now, without Leah (on a daily basis). This house is my stability and familiarity in a time of change. Often one of the reasons, I suppose, it is suggested to not make major change decisions in the first year of a significant loss if possible.

I lived in one home from birth until I left the nest for my first apartment. Almost 18 years. I had the opposite experience of Dave. Once out of my childhood home I liked jumping around from place to place in my youth. It gave me freedom and I learned to build and purge and discover what I liked, and what I didn’t like. Definitely, those were character-building times. The change was always good as long as I directed the change!

Most of us are inclined to either love change or hate change, but there is also change that happens to us, ala Who Moved My Cheese? or, change directed by us, ala I am the pilot for my change. Death, I find myself saying often, is a change agent – as in Who Moved My Cheese? It happens to us. We can go along with it, as I think I have done as caregiver for Dave, and through writing, reflection and doing whatever I can to direct my own change and reaction to it. I could have sat by and watched what happens passively and let the death and grief wash over me. I prefer to embrace the moment.  And actually, grief needs to be felt to be resolved.

I’ve changed the bedrooms around – both the master and Leah’s old room. I’ve moved the furniture, took some things out, and brought some things in. Remodeling, decorating, yard work, environmental change are some of my comforts. They give me control and ownership. Dave put up with these types of changes and usually appreciated the end result, sometimes reluctantly, and especially when I would proclaim my activity. Anticipating change for him was not so good. I must thrive on it. That’s the planner in me.

I completely remodeled the kitchen during the time Dave was on chemo for Hodgkins. He emerged from months of near death to a different house! I couldn’t change his cancer, but I could paint the kitchen and put in new cabinets and appliances. Now I look around and realize in this house I’ve now taken the control and changed the two rooms representing my empty nest. If I must adjust to this change, then maybe I can direct it.

The time for me now is all about me. This is my period of transition. I am rediscovering myself for myself. I don’t have to answer to anyone much like the young woman who set out on the road to her adulthood. The change makes me ask who am I, now? What part of the past do I carry along and what part remains behind, what part of Dave do I become the keeper to assimilate and make sure doesn’t disappear? Because now, I have to give those pieces of our life to myself. Or find them elsewhere. I can embrace the change or I can have it wash over me.

For longer than a year now I have reflected on my life and grief. I have truly been on a journey I could not have predicted. And through this process – grief is a process some call a journey – I have come to this side of grief in more than a simple transition. I am walking through a transformation. This moment of awareness and life design is important and profound. There are changes and choices I face each day while I continue this walk – embracing me – as a widow, an independent person, an entrepreneur, a mom, a friend. My experience has changed me and I change my experience. It is so odd that Dave’s last year of life is such a huge part of this personally transformative moment and he does not get to experience my inner work that is coming forth. In an ironic way, this mirrors the essence of his teacher life: planting seeds for individual transformation and growth.

I’m counting down in days now, not weeks, before I go to surgery. Change I didn’t plan on can be very scary, but now this is the next (and hopefully, short) bridge I cross to walk the path on my journey of healing.

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