In the reading, you will see this was written days ago. After writing it, I set it aside to let it simmer while I contemplated its contents. Life can be so strange and confusing at times. Do we allow the words of our heart to flow? The thoughts that enter our mind, do we share them, or secret them away? Are our concerns and fears fodder for public consideration, or something to keep hidden, to be brought out from time to time to ponder then tucked away again? Where do we find the answers to the questions that hound us constantly?
Today is January seventh, two months from now I will have been a widow for four years. That is nearly four years of being single and on my own. Nearly four years of doing what I pleased, when I pleased, as I pleased. How far have I come? Even I’m not sure.
On the day that my husband was discovered deceased in his truck, my world changed. I had no idea to what magnitude. The fact that he was a long haul truck driver and gone so much of the time, while we waded through the red tape and bureaucracy, I could live in denial. I could pretend the phone wasn’t ringing because he was angry and giving me the silent treatment. Or that his phone was broken, or he was in an area with no signal, or any of the thousands of other reasons that ran through my head. Anything to deny reality.
Even when we chose the casket. Even when we decided what clothing he would be buried wearing. Even as I listened to the funeral director and signed the papers. I was in denial. While I wrote out the obituary, and the songs I wanted for his celebration of life service, I could deny.
Which I did, right up until I walked into that funeral home and saw his body resting in that casket. When I placed that new cap and his glasses beside his in the casket, looking at his earthly remains. Even during the funeral and at the graveside, it wasn’t real. I would awaken from this nightmare soon.
Then came the long days. The silent, that phone is never going to ring again with his voice on the other end, days. I was so accustomed to the interruptions that every time I went to do any of the usual chores, I expected that call. I would look toward the phone wondering, then remember.
I would stand out at the gate next to the driveway and look down toward where he always parked his truck, straining to hear that big diesel engine, just one more time. To hear that air horn signalling his arrival, the air brakes as they set.
During the silence of the night, I would listen for the sound of a reefer knocking on and off. Sounds that never came. I would lie in bed at night, pulling his pillow close, but in the morning, that side of the bed still perfectly made, empty and cold.
I had a full time job. That kept me busy, kept me occupied for those hours. I would happily work overtime just to have those extra hours filled. The money also helped. But when the shift ended, when the weekend came, those hours stretched before me empty and bare.
I was trying to adjust and accept that I was no longer part of a couple, I was a widow, single, alone. And very confused. I had not been in this position for over thirty years. How does one go from married to single, from unavailable to available, mentally and emotionally? The first time someone greeted me with the salutation of Miss, it was an arrow to the heart. Then the realization that it was fact. It was truth. Technically I was no longer a Mrs. and I hate the term Ms.
My husband passed on the seventh of March. For the longest time, the seventh day of every month brought a touch of pain. That was one more month he had been gone. I don’t remember when I stopped doing that.
As time passed, I adjusted. I didn’t date. I didn’t look for dates. It didn’t feel right, not yet. Months went by, then it was a year. Then two years. I tried to follow a set schedule. Work, home, chores, zoning out mindlessly scrolling social media. I did write, constantly posting about loss and feelings and loneliness.
I did talk to gentlemen along the way, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t meant to work and I accepted that. Eventually. When you hope that maybe, but no.
Friends have become very important along this journey. Trying always to be there for them when I’m needed, and healing myself in the process. Growing and learning and discovering who I am inside. Recovering the me that got set aside when I was part of a couple.
Then, I lost my job. I was told I would be called back and that eventually proved untrue. Being one who was so accustomed to staying busy, I needed to find something to occupy my time.
I reclaimed my yard. It had been long neglected, so I drew on my inner gardener and cleared away years of collected debris. In the process, I learned more, grew more, discovered more of who I am and of what I am capable. It seemed that in clearing away the mess that was hiding my yard, I was also clearing away the garbage that had collected in my opinions of myself. I was rebuilding me.
The concerning thing to me, have I grown too adjusted to doing what I please, when I please, as I please? Have I settled in to my own routines, needing no one? Have I become too self sufficient? Am I too comfortable in the quiet, solitary life I live?
Or am I afraid? Am I now selfish and self centered? Or am I simply confused ? Am I reluctant to bend out of fears of breaking what has taken this long to build? Do I worry that the person I have become, the person I am, is unacceptable to another? That they will not accept or would attempt to change and rearrange what I have and am becoming?
Romance and relationships have not been all that kind to me. So I would imagine there are walls that have been built. Fears that to try love, would send me back into the pain I remember. Fears that dreams of romance filled with flowers and song is nothing but fantasy and love is nothing but heartache and pain.
Four years is not a long time, yet it is. The journey I have been on, has taken me far. But this place I am now, leaves me wondering, if I have really gone anywhere at all.
So I ponder these thoughts, and I allow them time to wander about my mind, giving me opportunity to seek clarification. Am I ready to move forward, even if it is only one step at a time? Is a solitary heart, tired of solitude? Where is the strength and courage I believed I had found? How does one who has found strength, allow others to be strong for them or with them? How does one accustomed to standing alone, allow another into their sunlight?
So many questions, so few answers.