Nothing But Change Ahead
Every January it's a guessing game, a mystery, and I keep playing along.
Hi friends, are you glad the holidays are over? I have mixed feelings. I loved being a part of my family’s festivities, seeing folks I hadn’t seen for a year or so, and sampling everyone’s goodies, but, through it all, as wonderfully familiar as it was, someone dear was missing. The ever-present hole in our universe.
When Ed died in March, I was already dreading the holidays. These absences are always more acute during those special days, when the operative word is ‘happy’. I didn’t know it yet, but, as it turned out, there were more to come: three more sad, sad deaths as the year went on, two of them dear relatives in their 80s and another of them gone way too soon.
I’m frankly sick to death of grieving. The pain of it is staggering, yet there is that sense that I’m here and they’re not. How unfair is that? How on earth can I complain? What is WRONG with me?
I suppose if I read everything friends and strangers are encouraging me to read now that I’m the dread ‘widow’, what’s wrong with me would become clear. But I’m not going to read any of it. I don’t need to analyze my grief in order to come to terms with it. (And I’m not going to tell anyone else how to deal with their own grief. There are no easy fixes for this. Time is the only healer, and even that’s no guarantee.)
I’m heartbroken because my Ed, the man I loved dearly and passionately and forever, has died. My reactions, if odd and unwelcome, are, I’ve discovered, normal in their craziness. We each deal with deaths of loved ones in our own crazy way.
I’ve learned that much, at least, though nothing else is quite that clear.
But here’s the new year, giving me a chance to look ahead. So what do I see? Nothing but change. Nothing is the same and it never will be again. The New Year came and went, and I wasn’t on the road with Ed, heading south to our winter digs. For more than 25 years we found ourselves either in a motel on our way, or at our rented condo on New Year’s Eve. This year I’m still in Michigan.
If I had the good sense to be afraid, there’s plenty to fear ahead. I’m 85 years old and if I dare to look ahead all I can see are walls going up, innumerable obstacles in my way to any kind of freedom. That makes me impatient. When my frazzled brain gets a little too ambitious, urging me to do this or that or some other thing I’ve never done before but have always wanted to, I have to keep reminding myself I’m not that kid anymore. I won’t be climbing to any hilltops or walking miles—or even a mile—anymore. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I’ll do it hobbling along with my trusty cane.
But in order to move ahead—which is the direction I want to be moving—I have to keep reminding myself that 85 is only a number. I’d better get cracking before my infirmities get the best of me and slow me to a halt.
I still have my eyesight, my brain functions most of the time, and so far nobody has scheduled an intervention to tell me I can’t drive anymore. I have the luxury of free time now and it seems the only thing I have to fear is fear itself.
That’s where New Year’s resolutions come in, not just for me, but for everyone. At the beginning of every new year we make promises, not because we think we’re going to keep them, but because we have to have hope. If the last year was bad (and it was bad), those of us with strong survival instincts or Pollyanna syndrome (me again), will try like anything to see the bright side. How could it get any worse? How could we bear it getting any worse?
And what if it gets better? What if it gets a whole lot better, and I’ve wasted valuable time worrying about those other things that may or may not happen? All I can do is seize the day. Carpe diem.
(Yes, I went there.)
I can’t say I won’t repeat this useless, infernal soul-searching on these pages, but I’ll try to keep it down, not just because I think it’ll be boring you, but because I know it’ll be boring me. Life is what we make of it.
(OMG, I went there, too!)
So here’s something…
Did you know Horace’s entire quote went like this?
“carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” (translation: "pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one”
I didn’t, either. It’s a bit of a downer, isn’t it? And really bad advice if you’re planning your entire life, or what’s left of it. I’m going to go off and think about this.
And I’m going to think about cliches. My SIL Nancy and I once spent a good hour talking to each other in cliches only. We knew so many of them between us we kept an entire conversation going for that long. By the time we were done we were laughing so hard we could barely spit them out.
So I can’t promise I’ll nix the cliches, either. I like them, and they’re always available when I can’t think of anything else. But I’ll try to remember to make fun of myself when I use them, so you won’t think I’m using them as a lazy crutch. 😉
And now that I’ve nattered on, let me know how you’re doing. I really do care. I really, really do.
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