After my husband died and I began to face the reality that life had really, seriously, sadly changed, I knew I was going to need to adjust. I was facing a new trail. (At the time I called it my new normal, but I have since grown to dislike that term.) I was being handed a lot of challenges and I was going to be able to do nothing but face them. I had been placed on an unexpected, unwanted journey and there was no turning back.
When he died, we were in serious, up to our neck and beyond, debt. My husband had kept saying it wasn’t as bad as some, but when you calculate the income against the outgo, it was pretty bad. Often I would pay one bill only to borrow from it later to pay another. When he had gotten his last job, he was finally making better money, and we were making progress. Then he died. I was still in debt.
He did have life insurance, but I had to have a death certificate. Since he had died out of state in his truck, there was a lot of red tape that had to be unbound before that would happen. While I struggled with all of that, the Good Lord provided. There is no way I could ever thank all of the people who gave me money. Their gifts kept me afloat, kept bills paid and kept me fed. When the insurance finally paid off, it paid off most of the debt. Not all. I was now the one hundred percent money manager. It was up to me to finish paying off that left over debt and what ever I faced going forward. Especially since the pandemic cost me my job and I chose early retirement so I could be here for my folks.New trail number one.
I had to face getting repairs done, or doing them myself. I am not a carpenter, so the roof work that was needed was contracted out to a professional. Who turned out to be very kind and talented. I have though done minor repairs around the house. I’ve replaced fencing and I’ve completely reclaimed my long neglected yard. Trail number two. Because that repair stuff never ends.
Being suddenly single through widowhood. Being that my husband was a long haul truck driver who was rarely home, and even before that a workaholic pulling extra hours, I was accustomed to alone time. This was different. This was never coming back, alone. This was, eating, sleeping, living solitary, different. This was making all decisions, facing all battles, weathering all storms alone different. Facing the fact that I was never going to get one of those, or many of those, phone calls at the worst times, ever again. Trail number three.
Facing the emotions. I had to face all of them. The anger, the sadness, the longing, the peace, the determination. I worked through them, and continue to work through them as I never know what might trigger a memory that will trigger an emotion. It took a couple of years before I stopped marking every seventh of the month as another month gone by without him. It took a year, before I stopped standing at the gate staring off down toward where he parked that truck he drove. Now, almost four years into this single thing, I am better able at handling the emotions, though they still come. Trail four.
Rejoining the living. I spent many hours working, as many as allowed over the course of this time. I attended church. I spent the rest of the time at home. Going out only when necessary or to take mom out for a while. This was before the pandemic. My son accused me of becoming a recluse. I had to face the fact that I needed to make changes there as well. I decided one day to go hike a mountain and I was going alone. I had to prove to myself that I could. I had spent the last months proving I could do so many other things, I had to prove this as well, to me.
I got the dog’s leash, I got her in the car and we headed in the general direction of the state park. I found it and parking the car we began our hike upward. It wasn’t easy, physically, I was definitely not in shape. We did however make it to the top. I met a new friend and then we began our journey down. If I had been by myself still, I would have done a happy dance, in fact, I seem to recall one of those when I got home. I’ve since been back many times and found a few other spots to hike along the way. I’ve also joined a Jeep group that has outings together. My attendance has been sporadic, not because of lack of desire, or a return to being reclusive, but funds. New trail number five.
Stronger faith. I thought my faith was strong before my husband passed away. I was very wrong. It has taken losing him, taking all these new trails and meeting some of the folks I have along the way that has shown me that and helped my faith and walk to grow. I’ve learned a lot, but still have so much to learn as I take this journey. It isn’t easy, but I am thankful for it because of how close it has drawn me to my Savior. Trail number six.
Those are only a few, of the trails that I find myself traveling. I imagine that others have traveled similar or have examples of their own new trails.
I have learned along this journey, that I am stronger, more capable, more able than I had thought. I am more willing and able to learn and I do understand more about life and about myself. I am more accepting of life’s lessons and the detours we take from time to time. Few lessons come easy. The ones that are, rarely teach us. It is the new trails, the new journeys, the detours, that teach us and help us grow. It is our own struggles, that help us to understand the struggles of others. It is what teaches us a stronger empathy and gives us greater compassion and determination. It is along those new trails, where we find the person we are.
As I sit here with my ever present cup of coffee, watching the feral cats enjoy their breakfast and the clouds crossing the sky like marching warriors off to do battle, that is the new trail I wish for you. Life worth living and enjoying.
March on warrior, your new trail awaits.