Friday, June 18, 2010

Through the Wilderness: What Keeps Me Going

I want to write about what keeps me going as I journey through the widowsphere in hopes that it will help others in this murky situation to think about what comforts them.

1. Memories. Ralph and I had a good marriage. I like to remember romantic times, silly times, special times. Our life wasn't perfect. I remember arguments and misunderstandings, too. And the time I socked him IN FRONT OF HIS MOTHER when we were driving on the freeway. I shared this with friends. They thought it was funny. Ralph said, "Would it be just as funny if I had punched you?" Guess not.

2. Dreams. Sometimes Ralph's presence in dreams is so real that I wake certain he's back with me. Equally real are the times I "lose" him in a dream and carry that feeling with me all the next day.

3. My answering machine. I've kept Ralph's greeting on it, and sometimes I call my number just to hear his voice.

4. My family. How lucky I am that my children live in the same town. And that I am able to watch my granddaughter grow up.

5. Friends and relatives. Most of them have been kind enough to let me talk about Ralph when I need to. And they've been a wonderful support system. They've made me laugh even when I didn't think I could. We've shared good times along with the bad.

6. Work. What could be more life-affirming than working with children? On the wall of my office is a quote from Katherine Graham: "To do what you love and to think that it matters, how can anything be more fun?"

7. Toby and Tiki, my cuddly cats. They keep me warm at night and are great companions when I'm lonely.

8. Books. I have been a reader all my life. Escaping into a fictional world helps a lot when you're grieving. And I enjoy my book discussion groups.

9. Writing. Even though I haven't written romance lately, I still write. No, I don't journal. I've never found it useful to write down my innermost thoughts; I just think them.

10. Travel. I love the planning almost as much as the trips. My sister is a great travel buddy, and I look forward to more vacations together in the futre.

On the other hand---
Here are some things that are tough:
1. Running into people who don't know that Ralph died, having them ask me how he is and having to tell them he "isn't." It's uncomfortable on both sides.

2. Seeing people out with their spouses or significant others. Do they realize how lucky they are?

3. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries--that's a given.

4. When something breaks down and I can't fix it. It reminds me what a klutz I am.

5. Wishing for someone to let me talk through decisions. Ralph was great about that.

Even when things are tough, I try to focus on the positive. Losing Ralph has taught me about the fragility of life and the importance of appreciating every moment. I sure haven't turned into a Pollyanna, but I'm working hard to become a more positive person. The path through widowhood is rocky, with twists and turns and potholes along the way, and I often stumble, but I'm trying to keep on keeping on.



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