Change and Time.
The concept of change and working within timelines has taken on new meaning the past six months. We all have them. Marking time helps us get a gauge of where we have been, are, or will be headed. The school year is a perfect example. Those with children understand the ebb and flow of life when school is in and out of session.
The school calendar is predictable and set. How we handle our days may not be so clear cut. Choosing how we spend time, with or without a time line, is a daily task few can avoid. Life is about choices. Despite our best efforts to control what our day looks like, sometimes it just does not work out how we thought or hoped for.
Six months ago, as I drove home in a mental fog from hospice, I decided I was going to give myself six months to figure out how to maneuver through life without my best friend and wife. It is the only thought I remember from that surreal ride back to my house, which hours earlier was our house.
In that moment, I gave myself permission to let go of any expectations and allow myself time to figure out what the hell just happened. Processing something so sudden and devastating is not a short term gig. Without getting too morose, everything changed at 2 am on November 26th, 2017. My kids and I had a new moment which became a new marker of our time.
Putting timelines in perspective has provided a constant source of wisdom and valuable lessons along the way. The first being the idea that a timeline can be set in stone. If only. A countdown to a vacation one of the few timelines which typically does not change. On this day, we leave. Pretty straight forward. If only the rest were so set in stone.
The Elusive Manual.
Lesson number two is no manual exists for dealing with grief with regard to the passage of time. I searched high and low, checked Amazon, and came up with bubkis. Worth noting here is the fact that many believe there is. There are often unspoken expectations for how someone who loses a spouse, or loved one should behave or live. I know. I had them too. Until I joined the widows club.
There is no timeline for grief, moving on with a new person, or just getting back to some semblance of a normal life. To each their own in its purest form. What works for one, does not work for all. Understanding there is not one size or look that fits everyone is a hard one to grasp for many. We can’t always walk miles in other people’s shoes, especially when they are funeral shoes.
Each day that passes is brand new opportunity for healing. Looking at it this way has helped create space for a new relationship, outlook, and growth. Moving through the pain and experiencing new joy, love, and hope for the future is an interesting space to be in, and is often happening simultaneously. Learning that the capacity for both extremes to exist within us at the same time was strange at first, but now feels familiar.
Each day is an equal mix of letting go, hanging on, and being grateful for the present moment. Grief interrupts my days less and less as the calendar moves on. However, it is a marathon, not a sprint. Damn. I am fortunate to have found someone who gets it and supports me when those dark moments pop up.
Remembering and honoring the promises made has forced me to continue to practice what I preach when it comes to being fearless and not judgmental towards others and their choices. Thanks learning curve. Dangling time lines are not my friend and neither are preconceived ideas about how things are supposed to be.
Tossing the Calendar.
As a natural born planner I am not a huge fan of open ended anything. I am learning very quickly that necessity is the mother of all invention and taking things on the fly does have its merits. Accepting this has been one of the most liberating and freeing revelations in all of this. Just be. Who knew?
My self-imposed six month timeline to grieve and become comfortable with my new reality is almost here. In some ways, I have. In others, I have not, which I have on good authority is typical after experiencing a loss.
Being a prisoner to a calendar is a sure fire way to get your head caught in the bars of the jail cell. The most important lesson is learning to more flexible, determined, and willing to change my view of timelines. Thanks again learning curve. Lessons abound huh? Replacing timelines with one day at a time is my new jam.
Reaching the half way point in the “year of firsts” was impossible to envision early on. Knowing that the forward momentum is only a moment away from a surprise brake check is unsettling, but not the worst thing in the world. The gears of life are greased by our emotions. Paying attention to feelings and releasing them is how light reaches through the sad or dark moments.
Opening myself up to the possibilities ahead has been exciting and terrifying. I have struggled mightily to stay in the present moment. It is easy to get stuck thinking about the past and how things were before everything changed. Building the new while honoring the old is not for the faint of heart. Our family has grown closer, expanded, and is fantastic in ways we never saw coming.
Where there is loss of any kind, there is change. Whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, the source is irrelevant. Change is change. Sound familiar? Letting go of people, relationships, or even things, creates changes we must contend with. Time marches on taking us with it despite any time frames we may have imposed. Let go or be dragged is one of my new favorite mantras and helps ease me along the grief journey with fewer scrapes and bruises.
As you roll through the changes and mark time in your world, please remember to be gentle and kind to yourself along the journey. We are all only human. Being too rigid will slow your roll. Instead try embracing the idea you are exactly where you are supposed to be regardless of the chaos swirling or uncertainty you are facing.
If all else fails, listen to the song Despacito, sing whatever lyrics you can remember, and dance like a fool. This is a daily activity in our house and reminds us to be grateful for the music, love, and taking a break from the weight of life.