Two years. It’s hard to comprehend. He’s been gone two years. I’ve lived alone in the house for two years. I haven’t had a conversation with him for two years. He hasn’t rubbed my feet. I haven’t heard the door open on Saturday mornings when he came home from church. He hasn’t shown me any of his birds or flowers. We haven’t laughed at goofy things. There haven’t been any plans for vacations or fixing up the house. He hasn’t put his arm around me. We haven’t prayed together.
But instead I decided to think on what I do have. More on that later.
I returned from my trip to South Carolina and just rested the whole day. The traveling took a lot out of me, and it did feel good to get home.
TEARS AND ENCOURAGEMENT
The next few days brought tears at odd situations. Words from sermons. Places. Things. Music. Clothes. Post-it notes. And it felt like it was starting again. I was morose. I sat and thought about what could have been. I missed Roger.
Then one day I received a card from fellow “person of loss” Dave.
The previous week he had asked me how I was doing. He was a young widower, and we had often commiserated (I use that word intentionally) with each other on our horrible lives. I found I could always be honest with him. So with a teary voice I told him, “Not too good.”
He looked at me. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I have no words.”
“I understand, Dave. I don’t have any words either”
When I read his note, the last line struck me. “I know it’s a tough time of the year with so many bittersweet memories. Hang in there. I need you, too.”
Someone needed me. We all like to feel needed, but it meant so much that someone put it into words.
SHOOTIN’ IT UP
I voted in the November election and then good friend Teresa invited me to go to a shooting range. At first I wasn’t very excited, but by the time I was done, I was pumped. I was very nervous looking at all of the choices, imagining what it would be like with the ear and eye protection on as I tried to load a clip of bullets. I told the guy who helped me that I was a novice and needed a lot of assistance. He helped me so much, and I even did pretty well for a first time at a range. Well, it wasn’t exactly my first time. I was an ROTC sponsor in high school and they let “the girls” shoot at their range. If I remember correctly, I did pretty well back then.
I began to look forward to a conceal carry class in the spring.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Former teaching partner, Martha, asked me if I was interested in running for Sangamon Valley School Board in the April election. Me? On the school board? It would be such a commitment. Once a month meetings. For four years.
The more I pondered it, and with a little encouragement from others, I decided that I would run. The district had been so good to me during my career; why not give back to the district and the community? With the help of friends, it took me just a few days to get 80 signatures—more than I needed.
I figured that I could bring a good perspective to the office. I was a parent with kids who had graduated from the school system; I was a community member, a former teacher, and a former administrator. Yes. There was much that I could offer.
THE 2nd THANKSGIVING
Everyone except Lance came home for Thanksgiving (he doesn’t usually make that trip so close to Christmas), and it was a much better time of Black Friday shopping with the girls than the last time we did it—two years ago. I couldn’t believe we shopped in 2014, the day after Roger died. I stood then in Walmart staking my claim on a trash can before the chaos began, thinking, “What am I doing? My husband just died, and I’m out Black Friday shopping!!”
But this Thanksgiving was great. We got great deals. We laughed. We ate. And even in the midst of a water main break, we all kept our ability to see the humor in so much.
- Everyone was so glad that I had Y2K water to use for flushing the toilets!
- The job assignment board was completed even though there was some devious changing of initials.
- Monical’s pizza sure did help.
- Thankfully, the water crisis was the day AFTER Thanksgiving.
But the day passed. And I got better. And I was OK.
Remember the beginning of this entry? There was a litany of things I was missing. These days I have changed my focus. Now I think about what I do have. There are friends who will do absolutely anything I need to help me. I have family I can talk to any time I want. My kids will call just because they can, and they help me plan vacations. There are people I can pray with. I have a church family who loves me, and a singing group I get to travel with. My house is warm and not falling down. There is food for me, and my body is pretty healthy.
I have just about everything I need…except someone to rub my feet.
I’m still working on that.
I have come to the end of my Heartstorms journey—two years of being a widow. I wonder if I should continue writing. I have more to say, but I imagine it will not be so much about being a widow as it will be about the new person I am becoming.
And I’d love to write about Roger’s liver transplant. It’s a great story that has a happy ending.
Thank you for traveling with me.
You have meant more to me than you know.
OBSERVATION: Life goes on.
OBSERVATION: “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” (Attributed to A. Lincoln)
HELPFUL HINT: “We can’t change what happens, but we can use our lives to love others.” (A recent quote from my sister-in-law, Elaine.)
HELPFUL HINT: Don’t fight the storm. Use it to help carry you to your destination.