Sunday, May 22, 2016

Looking Back

Some say "don't look back, keep moving forward...towards the future".  Yet, I find myself looking back quite frequently lately.  Maybe it's because looking forward is scary. The future is unsure and it fills me with sadness to think this might be all there is. So instead, I find myself looking backwards. Of course, Facebook helps with this as every couple days I get one of those "memory" reminders...1 year ago, 2 years ago, 7 years ago. How innocent and and naive I was 7 years ago.

I'm a list maker and have a regular list of "to do's".  For years I have used small notebooks and when they are full, I file them away. I'm not quite sure why I did this, but today, it allows me to look back. What was I doing 7 years ago? My "to do" list looked so different. It consisted of things like "do nails," "clip coupons," "vacuum car". I also had a long list of church-related projects. I was lucky that I could devote a lot of time to those things.

6 years ago...after Ed had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer...  We just returned from our trip to Italy. A trip we didn't think we were going to be able to make. What wonderful memories we made and how much we treasured that time. I recall breaking down on that trip. We got "stuck" in Italy an extra week due to volcanic ash in Iceland. It ended up being a wonderful extra week, but in the midst of trying to figure out flights and hotels with internet issues and language barriers, I cried and asked Ed how would I ever deal with these types of things without him. It was one of my rare moments of weakness fearing life without him.

I look back to 4 years ago. Dan's graduation from RWU. Ed was so proud of Dan that day and one of my favorite pictures of Ed was from that day. Several weeks later we celebrated with family and friends with a party at the house. I now recall how Ed was too tired to help setup for the party. Instead he rested upstairs in bed while Dan and I, and his friends, got things setup. As I look back, I see now that this was the beginning of the end.

3 years ago... My "to do" now begins to be so different. "uncover septic," "mow lawn," "fix ruts in driveway". I took down storms, mulched, painted, sold cars, ...bought our grave marker.

Yesterday I spent the day mowing the lawn with a riding mower that I didn't even know how to use 3 years ago. I then used the blower and trimmer that I bought myself last year. Previously I used the gas-powered ones that Ed owned but after 3 years of getting frustrated with them not starting when I needed them to, I bought myself battery-powered ones last year.  Three years ago, I had no need for these things--they were Ed's.

And this morning I'm watering my indoor plants and caring for the orchid that Dan gave me. Three years ago, the only plants that survived with me were fake ones! Ed had the green thumb and cared for the house plants as well as those in the yard. Today, I'm carrying on in his absence. Yes, there are some that have not survived...our beach rose that I bought for our 25th anniv or Ed's mini lime tree. Maybe I'll get some new ones. We'll see.

I'd like to think Ed is proud of me. At times I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't help him with these things when he was here. But we had a good division of labor. Definitely not an equal division of labor. He obviously did a lot more than me. Now I realize that. So today I thank him often for all he did for me and I hope he's listening. I just wish I told him this when he was here. And just like that, looking back can fill you with sadness as well...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Widowbago Day!

This morning I woke up early.  The sun was shining in my bedroom window and the sky is a bright clear blue and I'm excited.  Today I'm hosting a "widowbago".  What is a widowbago?  It's a social gathering of widows/widowers who have met via an online community board.  There are people from all over the world on the board and people spontaneously host a "bago" which is basically a time and place for anyone in the area to get together. The word comes from "Winnebago" and the idea of traveling to places far and near and is shortened to "Bago".

I've been to a few "Bagos".  My first one, I went with my friend Cathy and I didn't know anyone else there. But by the end of the day, I had made some new friends and, in fact, one of my closest friends now, I met at that first Bago.  These have been held at other's houses, wineries, restaurants...and they are just so relaxing and fun.  Hanging with others who get our crazy, wid life.

So today, I'm hosting one.  I wish there were more who could make it, but that's what happens with a Bago.  You pick a date and time and those who can make it, can.  Those who can't, we'll miss.  I'm looking forward to this relaxing day, just hanging out and sharing food and drink and laughing with a great group of people.

And I need this...  This past month has been tough and I can't really put my finger on why.  There are a couple things I will attribute it to whether it's true or not.  First, being at three years has filled me with sorted feelings.  At three years, I realize what I'm missing most now is the life that Ed and I had and the life we thought we'd have as we grew old.  Yes, I still miss Ed, but my grief is more for what I have lost without Ed, without my partner, without my lifelong companion.  The idea of living the rest of my life alone is scary and I realize it is something I don't necessarily want to do.

Work has also been very busy and stressful and has really made it difficult for me to find the work/life balance I was getting good at.  Each day, each week...I keep trying to find it and hope that it will come.  So far, it is alluding me but I have hope that at some point, soon, things will become more manageable.

I have also been dealing with a muscle strain that has prevented me from exercising.  It fact, early on, walking was difficult. So simply walking outside to enjoy any fresh spring air was not possible.  Working in the yard was almost impossible. Since January I had been jogging 3 miles daily on my treadmill and today I'm lucky if I can walk 2 miles each day. Yes, I'm getting better and on the road to recovery, but this injury has slowed me down tremendously and, for several days, even stopped me totally.  Not having this physical exercise I realize is impacting my mental health as well.

But today, I'm happy and excited.  And just as I write this, the cardinals are once again outside my window.  The male and female, together.  And they make me smile.  I'm looking forward to hosting my first "bago" and having my "wid" friends here at the house, filling these walls with love and laughter.

Today is starting off as a good day and I will capture this moment, because the mood can so easily change, without notice, without intent.