Friday, July 1, 2011

A Year Later

For me it is important to take time now and then to reflect back on the growth of this past year. One year ago today our friends from Rusk, Texas drove up to support me and Bill as he faced his second biopsy, the first having been somehow inconclusive. Bill was surprised to see them because we had been at their home only weeks earlier. It was no surprise to me. I asked them to come. It was pretty clear to the three of us that Bill's situation was grave in May, and they had made me promise to call if I needed them, and I needed them. This is a chit you only use once, and this was that one time.

One year ago today I began the grieving process (a word by the way that joins journey -- as in "my journey" or "my weight loss journey" or fill in the blank journey -- among the terms that give me palsied seizures). Grieving is a state of being that continues to today, though with much less intensity at times, and deeper at others. For me, it has been the opening of the shell that encloses my understanding (Gibran). Sometimes those shells are pretty doggone thick and require quite a bit of pain to break them open. Moving through that pain can get tricky. Running away from it is pointless; it will always outlast and outrun you and be waiting for you. Staying or living in it would be like dying a slow and painful death over and over and over. So I have been moving through the pain, and using it to teach me. When I feel the pain, I ask it where it is coming from and why is it here. Sometimes the pain is anger, sometimes guilt, sometimes regret; but always loss. When I've dealt with all the others, there will always be the loss.

When you lose a spouse, you lose that person and grieve that person and who they were in your life. Everyone knows and acknowledges this reality. But you also lose your identity as spouse with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that come with it. That role is done. For me, as for many, this happened right after my job as mother was done. Arguments to the contrary, my children are grown and are wonderfully competent to take care of themselves and the best part is that they choose to do so! So that's two jobs I've lost, and that doesn't count the career I retired from in 2007 to take care of Bill. So, there I am. What am I? That has been the point of this sabbatical, after all.

I do acknowledge that I have a better sense of wholeness than I did a year ago, or even three months ago. I was pretty broken, and more pieces of me breaking off with every anniversary/birthday/holiday. The camping trip to Cripple Creek brought with it the healing revelation that the bittersweet conjugation of my daughter's birthday with our first Father's Day without Bill could be acknowledged and sweetly honored without falling into the pit and breaking off more pieces. 

I also acknowledge the importance of this breakage in becoming Sharon. Not only has it broken open the shell of my own understanding, allowing me to live anxiety-free for the first time in decades. It is clearly also the work of the Great Sculptor, chiseling away the stone to reveal the glorious sculpture beneath if only the material holds up to the pressure. How am I doing, Boss?

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