We did yard work on Sunday. I’m sure a lot of people did. And, it’s really no big deal except that it is…
The boys did all the heavy lifting. They carefully and quickly weeded the front garden; and, then, they performed the mowing and the weed whacking without any help from me. I just handed them the garden tools and swept up the grass clippings. I really didn’t do much of anything. I was sort of ornamental at best in the whole production; and I know that Mike would like it that way.
Mike would think the boys should do this heavy work for me because he noted that I do a lot for the kids throughout the day. He’d often praise me for being a good mother. He’d stop me in the middle of an ordinary moment and he’d smile and kindly say, “you’re such a good Mom Stace”. I remember feeling very proud when he told me this. *Sigh… I sure miss hearing his voice drip praise on me. In fact, I miss hearing his voice say anything at all. I miss hearing Mike’s voice so much, that I often pause and have make believe conversations with him. I’ve been hosting these imaginary talks for over three years now; and, at this point, I am not certain I would even know how to stop doing this. Maybe it’s weird. I don’t really know; and, honestly, I don’t really care. Talking to Mike gives me a sense of comfort and security so I am going to do it until I don’t.
Obviously, I wish I could hear him the way I used to, but I can’t. I know that Mike and I will never have another real conversation as long as I live; so, instead, I create imaginary conversations between us and I imagine what he would say to me if he could still talk. It is not as good as having a real conversation, but it is what I have – it is the next best thing. Anyhow, I got sidetracked. I was discussing yard work…
I know Mike would be proud of the boys for taking care of everything on their own today. He would think they worked well together and he’d be proud of them. I remember, a long time ago, he carefully showed my boys how to mow the lawn. Now, Mike has been dead so long, that it seems like a lifetime ago that he stood outside with the boys. Still, I can remember looking out the kitchen window and watching him show my oldest son how to wind up the extension cords in a specific way. I wonder if that moment is frozen in my mind because I would need to draw on it in the future. Maybe certain instances are burned into my mind because they held a purpose far greater than the moment they occurred in. Who knows. That is likely the topic for another blog. Anyhow, I’m sure, wherever he is, Mike feels proud when the boys do these acts of service for me. He’d think they did good doing the yard work today; and, I suppose that will be a conversation between me and Mike for another time.
Today, while outside with the kids, I finally realized why I avoid yard work. I have a distinct distain for it because it reminds me that Mike is dead. My conundrum with yard work is tied to Mike’s deadness. I allow our yard get unruly because in my mind he should be here helping us. And, I’m mad about this. I’m mad that he died. And, for me, it feels strange to feel this and admit to it because in my grief anger has not be a dominant emotion. Sure, I have felt anger about the unfairness of Mike’s death; but, generally, I have been filled with gratitude for what was verses anger about what never came to be.
All grief is different. Mine will not mirror anyone else’s grief because grief is an individual experience. My grief isn’t more successful because it is largely free of anger. It is simply mine. It is true that the hallmark of my grief is not anger, but I have other prominent issues in my brand of grief. For example, I still ruminate about Mike endlessly. 3.5 years later, I am still unable to maintain focus in the present moment. I am continually drifting back to the past. During my waking hours, I am busy creating elaborate scenarios in my head about a man who is no longer alive. I spend most of my time lost in an imaginary world where I keep Mike alive. And, I know that I am missing out on my own life because I spend so much time in this fictional reality I have created. So, yeah, I might not be angry in grief, but I am lost in other ways.
Like those of you reading this, I hate doing life without my person. It is not easy being the only adult in the house. I dislike being responsible for almost everything. And, I feel a lot of anxiety because I am charged with making all the decisions alone. I am afraid of screwing up; and most days I feel overwhelmed by life.
I hate being Mike’s widow and I up until yesterday I had the unkept yard to prove it. But, alas, it now all makes sense to me. Mike used to do all the outdoor work with us. And, for the past 3.5 years I purposefully avoided the yard work because I felt his absence when we are completing these tasks without him. It feels really good to finally understand why I have been rebelling against yard work. All along I thought I was being lazy. I never really equated my hesitation to do yard work with Mike’s death.
I must admit, it was sort of fun being outside with the kids today. So, I guess this is progress. But, still, no matter what, even though I’m proud of the boys for doing the work themselves, a part of me is angry because the three of us were cheated of a really good life with Mike.
I am aware that this blog isn’t exactly filled with my usual uplifting words. Those of you that followed me here for the last few years will note the difference. This blog features my tantrum against yard work and Mike’s death, and this authenticity is okay. It is more than okay, because life isn’t always wonderful. Sometimes it’s cruddy and messy. Sometimes life is a work in progress. And, sometimes, big lessons are learned while you roll up your sleeves and get dirty doing something very ordinary like yard work. This is what happened to me yesterday.
Grief and yard work are both labour intensive and each thing demands your attention at various times. On Sunday, I gave both the yard and my grief the time they demanded and I’m better for it.