It's been a long two and a half years since my husband of 28 years died. Before that I had two ugly, but precious years to prepare myself for becoming a widow. I really hate that word. It makes me think of a nasty spider bite or the forlorn roof balcony (I'm afraid of heights). Like it or not, that's what I'm labeled now.
Greg's illness was long and difficult. He had brain cancer. He stopped being himself even before he was diagnosed. Add to that neurosurgery, radiation and chemo, you might get the picture. I have to say I was the good caretaker. No, I was an excellent caretaker. Everyone said so. I was always told how strong and dedicated I was. Truth is, I went numb. I think that was God's way of helping me get through it in a way that was dignified and best for Greg. I did things for him no woman should ever have to do for her husband (and no husband should have to endure). After all was said and done, I can say I have very few regrets about the way I handled it all. I know I loved him to the end and treated him with all the affection and respect I could muster. It wasn't hard. He was a great guy and I loved him very much.
The illness is not what I want to talk about. It's this being a middle-aged single woman on her own for the first time ever in her life. I'm not a really compliant person by nature. I don't like being given a script. So I tossed out the "Steps of Grief" with G's shirts and shoes and determined that I would not waste a minute wallowing in self-pity. Rather than bulldozing through the heartache and pain, I figured I could just outwit it and skirt around. I like to say I took the scenic route through grief. I started dating right away. It was a family friend and someone who was safe. But it was a bad idea and ended in the loss of a long and treasured friendship. Soon after, to ease this extended sense of loss, I found myself in another serious relationship. It was all too soon and this also ended in heartache. I'm thinking now that I was grasping for what I thought would restore a sense of normalcy to my life; get back to the familiar and comfortable which for me was companionship i.e., a shopping partner, movie sharer, dinner talker, you know. Denial was a good drug but I think I've finally broken the addiction. I'm finding it's actually quite healthy and refreshing to just face the music. Sorrow IS good for the soul as wise Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes. Now I have two and a half years of lessons learned to speed me on my way and something tells me I'll continue on the scenic route, but with a GPS. Maybe there's someone out there who would like to come along.
My future is definitely the undiscovered country.