What is normal? How and where do we find it hiding? Or is it actually what ever we are dealing with at the moment, even should it be uncomfortable and unwanted? How do we come to accept that change is normal? That storms in life, are normal? That the only thing that doesn’t change, is that there will be change?
Five years ago I set out on a new journey. Five years ago, I went from part of a couple, to alone. I went from having someone to ask questions, bounce ideas off of, argue with, to…me. Now, my family is all around me, but with lives of their own so I am alone, yet not alone.
Sitting here right now, sipping coffee and listening to the birds outside my window, I contemplate. Sitting here watching the sun struggle to break through the clouds, I consider. Sitting here pondering, I know that I have come far on this journey, but the journey isn’t over. There is still much to face, much to endure. There are still lessons to learn as I continue along this path. Dealing with this new normal, this changing normal. Dealing with, learning from, and enjoying this life I am given.
The first year was almost unbearable as I fought the loneliness. As I dealt with the silence. The phone didn’t ring, no television in the night, no sounds of that diesel engine and setting brakes just down the way. No one asking me to bring them a cup of coffee or ask what’s for dinner. There were no more hugs, no one asking silly questions repeatedly, no one to snuggle up with as night called the day done. Special days nearly sucked the life out of me, birthday, anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas. He so loved to eat, those family gatherings with him not there, were hard. The nights alone, even more difficult. Even though as a long haul truck driver he was rarely home and I was fine with that, this, was different. I knew he wasn’t returning this time, never again. Sleeping became difficult. I would fall asleep, but wake repeatedly through the night. One moment asleep, the next awake and staring into and listening to the dark, silent house. Often I would find myself standing at the gate staring down toward where he parked that truck. Simply staring as I remembered.
As time passed, I dealt with the things as best that I could. I had to get the roof repaired. I had to replace appliances. I had to keep the bills paid. When I reached a point I thought finances allowed, I purchased a new car. The first, and probably only new car I will ever own. It wasn’t one hundred percent what I wanted, but I had to remain the responsible adult and purchase what I felt able to pay for. so I settled. I really like the Compass even though I doubt my husband would as it is much smaller than what I had and would be more difficult for him to get in and out. But what I had, was road worn and weary and in need of replacing.
Five years. So much has gone on in those years. So many changes and yet so much stays the same.
I joined a jeep group that I love. I made and continue to make friends within that family. I lost my job due to covid, but no longer working placed me in the position to care for my parents. I don’t currently have the financial ability to go a lot of places, but then, I’m quite content at home. Much to the chagrin of my son who wants me to get out and about more, and actually talk with people.
Losing a partner hurts, and hurts deeply. The year he passed, I reached my sixtieth birthday. We had been together thirty-four years, over half my life. Losing him, was equivalent to having a part of my heart ripped out and tossed away. The pain very real, lasting for so many months. The emotions, still lingering, not fully, never to be fully gone. Though it has changed. No longer the deep, searing pain that leaves me struggling, but a quiet memory. Like a blanket covering my heart and reminding me of the good times, the loving times, the times apart from the struggles. The blessings we were given, the miracles that happened along the way.
Immediately after he left this life, I began writing, spilling my heart and soul onto the page. Trying to get the emotions out so I could face them. Trying to get them out to share to help anyone who may come along so they see they are not alone in their feelings. Calling it then, my new normal. Long before the pandemic, long before I found myself unemployed. I understood that every day, every passing moment is a new normal. Life changes with each breath. Time passes, once passed it is gone never to return. Like the water in a river, passing on its way to the sea, gone never to return. Outside, a bird is singing. That bird may fly away only to return and sit on that same branch. When it sings though, the notes are different as they are sang with new air in their lungs. The same, yet different. That is each new day, same, yet different.
After my husband left this life for his eternal one, I became even closer to God. My prayers became less routine and more conversational. More pleading for discernment, for understanding, for peace. When I was doing all the yard work after losing my job, I created a small, personal walking track. My son calls it my thinking circle. He’s partly right. More times that I can count, I have spent time out there walking and praying. Spilling my heart in word or emotion. Every time, I walked away more at peace.
When I write here or anywhere, I don’t attempt to teach. I don’t attempt to diagnose. When I write, spilling words bleeding thoughts onto the page, my goal is to share what I have faced and how, in the hope that it will help the one coming along who may be facing similar. So they can see their new normal with different eyes and ideas.
Five years. Even though I sit in the same house, drinking coffee from the same cup, living a life close to what was, I still know I have come a long way. I can face the journey ahead much more easily, with greater determination and peace. It isn’t a new normal, it is simply..normal.