Hello Lovely Readers. Happy Sunday to you all.
Every now and again, at 12 years post-loss, there is a day or two where things are just really nice. Sometimes it can even be a small moment, and sometimes it can be an entire day or maybe even two. And when those days happen, the love and the losses and the pain and the hardship and the grief and all of it – they all interject and they all intersect and they all integrate and they all do things that start with the letter i, apparently. All of those pieces of my life, they all sit inside my heart and at times they lay more dormant and at other times they come out – but they are always there and I am ALWAYS aware of them and always aware of how the loss of Don Shepherd and what Ive done with it and because of it has led me to this time and this moment, and how he is a part of everything. Sometimes this feeling is intense and loud, and other times it’s just there and it’s obvious and it’s subtle, like lightly falling rain against the windowsill.
Yesterday, Nick and I had a few “couple” friends over to our house for a pool day and cookout. Most of the summer so far has been nothing but pouring rain, thunder, lightning, and incredibly muggy and humid days. Pool time has been challenging, to say the least. And yesterday, there was once again the threat of “thunderstorms are likely” in the forecast. But we forged ahead anyway, and there were about eight of us in total at the house yesterday afternoon. We ate delicious chicken legs and thighs and sausages on the grill that Nick made, and sides that our guests brought, and yummy watermelon for a refreshingly sweet dessert. We chatted in the partial sunshine when it broke through, and we laughed off the sprinkles of rain when they made their way from the sky and into our pool. We caught up with each other, we conversed, and friends who didn’t know each other all that well got to know each other a little better. Nick’s friends from the veteran community meshed well with my friend from the widowed community. We even got to meet her new guy, and he was great, and it was so nice seeing her smiling from the inside out again. We made small talk from inside the pool, and we simply enjoyed time spent with great company. We closed up the pool area and put things away as the sky started to sprinkle again, and we wished our friends a safe trip home.
Last night, after everyone left, Nick and I settled in for a game of Scrabble and our favorite coffee frappes and onion rings from the local seafood/ice cream place down the street. And just as we began our board game, the skies got incredibly dark and the down came the pouring rains and out came the gusty winds. It was as if Mother Nature participated in giving us just a few hours for a perfect day.
This morning, we slept in a little bit, and then sat out in my favorite room in our house, the three season room, with our coffee and the sounds of nature all around. The day is gorgeous and comfortable, in the mid-70’s and sunshine, not a raindrop in sight for once.
It’s been a lovely weekend.
And if I wasn’t a person who has had the experience of widowhood in my life, that would be the end of it.
It’s been a lovely weekend.
And – there was a lot of prep that went into that lovely weekend, which included cleaning and organizing and scammering around last minute yesterday morning trying to get everything done. While Nick worked outside on the pool and grill area, I worked inside on getting our basement area cleaned up since people would be going in and out of there to use the downstairs bathroom and change into bathing suits, etc.
As I gathered up the vacumn cleaner and a bunch of cleaning products and went down the stairs to get started, I got to the bottom of the steps and proceeded to trip on a pair of shoes and fall down on my already injured knee. The knee that was injured while dancing at Camp Widow, apparently. (weirdest sentence ever.) Immediately, while lying on the floor and attempting to push my weight up on one leg and put zero pressure on the now more severely injured other leg, the weight of everything in my life and the weight of it still being July in this moment (the month that Don died) and the weight of losing Don Shepherd and the weight of Sammy cat dying on Mothers Day last year and the weight of having to clean up a massive amount of puke left by Autumn cat underneath the futon in the basement and remembering that after Don died a dozen years ago, my dad and I moved furniture in my apartment and cleaned up cat things – I was suddenly and very immediately triggered by falling down on my bad knee. I got myself up and sat on a chair, and I started crying. Hyperventilating, actually. I couldn’t stop. My mind went back to 12 years ago when Don had a massive heart attack and died suddenly, and then we found out that he had no health insurance the day he died. There was a lapse in the insurance provided by his EMS company, which led down a road of investigating why that was and led down another road to realizing they were not the best of people and they did a lot of things to cover up fraud behavior. And now, here I am, 12 years later, sitting on my basement floor, injured, and without health insurance myself because of an incredibly moronic health care system and a situation too long and boring to get into here.
So I sat there, triggered and sobbing, and trying to breathe right again. And then, when I finally made my way back up to standing, I began the cleaning of cat nastiness that was behind the futon. With each pile I cleaned, I was brought back to doing the same thing in our apartment about a year after Don died and I was preparing to move out of there and move in with a roommate in Queens, and my dad and I were pulling out the couch and cleaning up the nastiness underneath that I had allowed to get to a disgusting level in my deep grief. So I cleaned and cried, cleaned and cried, and tried to breathe again normally. When Nick came in for a short break from his outdoor work, I asked him for a hug and told him that I was struggling. And in my head, I was thinking that it was good that one of my widowed friends would be there at our gathering soon, because I could tell her about my grief triggers and she would totally get it and it would help to talk about it with her.
And then everyone arrived, and I didnt need to talk about it with her. Instead, we lived and we laughed and we enjoyed the company that was present, and life was in the moment and all was okay and more than okay. And there was joy. So much joy and so much peace.
I tell you all this to say that the experience of widowhood is always there. It is a part of me. It is a part of you too, Im guessing. Sometimes it lays dormant for awhile, and other times it comes out when you trip and fall over some shoes and have to face cleaning up cat puke. Grief and life are to be lived and experienced and felt all at once. You live, and you grieve. You grieve, and you live. Side by side. You cry your face off for over 90 minutes while scrubbing your basement carpets, and then you go outside and join the pool party and you are able to be in the moment, during the moment. You cry, so you can then live.
The sun comes out for awhile, then the rains pour down. It’s all relevant. It’s all chaotic, beautiful, ordinary, wonderful, unfair, gorgeous, precious life.
And with it all, comes the hope of another tomorrow.