Generally, I feel underwhelmed these days. Since Mike died, I have been unable to authentically dig back into life. I am not excited about anything in particular. There is nothing that gives me a thrill. It feels like I buried my passion with him. Currently, I have zero zest for life and this feels unsettling to me. Maybe Covid is contributing to some of these cruddy feelings. Whatever the case may be, it feels lousy to be rootless. I feel like I am untethered. I am drifting without any passion for life and this is no way to live.
I have all sorts of plans swirling around in my head; but ,most of my ideas are just scattered thoughts bouncing around in my mind. I can’t seem to decide on anything. I think about pottery courses and I contemplate painting classes while I drive the kids to school. As I stand in line to order my coffee, I wonder if I should buy a piano and start to play again. Then, I contemplate writing a book and changing careers as I fold the laundry. As I stand unloading the dishwasher, I think about selling the house and travelling the world. Then, randomly, as I lay in bed at night, I think that maybe I should embark on the El Camino de Santiago.
As I lay awake, deep into the night, a part of me also thinks about selling everything and buying a Mercedes camper van and driving across North America while rediscovering who I am. Clearly, I have passionate ideas. I just do not have the capability to decide on anything at the moment.
The world is currently paused because of Covid, but the truth is, I wrote these opening words a few years ago. I have felt unsettled for a long, long time. My life has been paused for a lot longer than most people realize. Covid is not there reason I am frozen. It is grief.
The current pandemic has brought the world to a standstill, but for me I have been paralyzed for 3.6 years now. (I am not proud of this. In fact, I hate admitting this to myself). However, I know that fear, is often a byproduct of outliving the person you love. It is normal to be scared when you are at the point of impact. Like yours, my world imploded. It takes time to recover from a traumatic event like this. Part of my recovery has been to acknowledge that I have been scared without Mike. My fear caused me to live life cautiously. Previously, I was not really engaged in passionate living. I was simply getting by day by day. I was surviving without him. But, now, I am so incredibly tired of feeling lacklustre. I desire forward momentum. And, no one, can build this momentum but me. It is up to me to move forward, whether I am scared or not. And, in truth, I was just finding my stride prior to Covid; and, now, like everyone else the virus has made me hunker down and shelter in place. Selfishly, I hate the virus for breaking my stride.
In the past, there were many lofty ideas that excited me, but I was too scared to action my plans. I am responsible for two other human beings. I always told myself that I couldn’t just think about myself. I reminded myself that I am a mother with children under my roof. A voice in my head told me that I do not have the luxury of just plunging ahead with my big, bold make-shift plans.
I listened to this voice. And, I have purposefully and carefully created a life in suburbia. My kids have the structure and routine they require. And, for the most part, life is good. We have what we need to get through the day. But, I still want more. I’m not satisfied living without passion. And, I hope you aren’t either.
Now, at 3.6 years, change is no longer just something I think about. It is something I NEED. It has become a requirement. I must action change because I am slowly dying here in suburbia.
I can not stay still any longer than necessary. In order to be a good mom, I have to make changes next year when my youngest son graduates. I have to take a leap of faith and just move forward into an uncertain future. I feel it. I am brave enough to finally just go for it and live my life. I am not sure how everything will unfold, but that scares me less than staying here in suburbia. I was made for bigger things. I feel it in my bones…
I am still dealing with the fall out from Mike’s sudden death.
Death is heavy stuff.
It takes time to sort through the wreckage that follows the death of your spouse.
Mike’s death left me with so many questions. I had to recreate my identity. Wow. Yikes, that is a bit daunting at the best of times, never mind in the middle of the shit sandwich that is grief. Figuring out one’s identity is a humongous task. I spent hours and hours sifting through the fragments of me that survived his death and I carefully and thoughtfully mixed those pieces into my new psyche.
Even while weighed down by the heaviness of early grief, I knew that I had to figure out who I was – without him. I had to rediscover my being. The woman I am without Mike is pretty fabulous. I like her a lot and I know that he would love her very much. I am many of the things I was when Mike walked the Earth, but I have evolved into so much more.
Mike’s death has taught me a lot about living. Ironic isn’t it. That is the beauty of life. It is one crazy ride. I am forever grateful to Mike for influencing my life and who I am. And, that man continues to love on me from wherever he is now, I feel it.
Over the years, I have been forced to reconsider the direction of my life. I have had to come up with a plan. I had to determine what I wanted my life to be – without him. I have made all sorts of decisions – in his absence – and it has been challenging, and that’s understating it.
Living forward as Mike’s widow has been an exercise in grace that is for damn sure. Finding myself since he died has been a long, long process. Rebuilding my life from the rumble of what was has not been an easy task. I have worked so very, very hard to arrive at this place I am at.
In the years since he died, I have often paused. I have stood still in the hollow silence that is grief. I have closed my eyes, taken many a deep breath and asked myself very challenging questions. Originally, I had more questions than answers; but, now, at 3.6 years, I am finally figuring out what the hell I will do with my own life.
I have been rewarded for being brave enough to stand naked in the wreckage of my old life. I have reaped the benefits of standing still when all I wanted to do was run from the emptiness that was gutting me. I am a better woman for standing in the ruins of my old life and allowing myself to simply fall to my knees when the missing swallowed me whole.
And, when I did fall to my knees Mike was there, I felt him. Sure, he is now invisible, but he is there nonetheless. Mike stood by me like he always did – I could feel him. These last few years, Mike has waited (not patiently) by my side. He stands watch over me. He silently waits for me to rise from my knees. And, I can tell you, if Mike could talk he’d gush about how proud of me he is. It has been a long time coming, but finally I am ready to take life by the horns and boldly walk into the uncertain future.
I have spent many long, lonely nights with my thoughts. I have stared blankly at the wall and I have searched the sky for clues as to what the hell I am supposed to do. I have asked myself, “now what?” several times I day for 3.6 years. Countless times, as I drove aimlessly down the road casually passing by my past life, I have whispered, “what am I supposed to do Mike?” Each time I ask this question, I wait in the silence that is now Mike. And, I hear nothing. I can’t hear a thing he says anymore. And, in a lot of ways, I am done asking questions. Now, I need to throw caution to the wind and just do something. And, wouldn’t you know it, right now, I hear Mike say “fuck it Stace, just go for it. Everything will be okay”.