Last night as I was driving home from town after writing group, I finally realized why I have been having troubles with my stomach again. Troubles reminiscent of last fall and winter when nearly everything I put in the mouth resulted in pain that eventually got so bad I was living off soda crackers and Cream of Wheat. The doctors diagnosed a malfunctioning gallbladder and removed it last November and while that did wonders, it didn’t quite rid me of the stomach pains that stress of just about any kind has caused me since I was a teen truthfully. Last year this time was a difficult time in terms of my grieving for my late husband. All the big anniversaries, the first, seem to fall in the last two months leading up to the anniversary of this death. I got through it, just it seems, and since I have seen steady improvement though by no means does this imply that life has always been easy or magically free of the grief or other problems that crop up simply because we are human and live in the real world as opposed to a TV sitcom where troubles manifest and are solved within a 30 minute time frame.
The realization I came to as I drove down the pitch black road to Josephburg that seemed to be running straight into the star dotted night sky on the horizon was that in about 8 weeks my first husband will have been dead for two years. Now, I hadn’t forgotten when he died but I had gotten so caught up in my present and planning for the future and loving my husband and caring and worrying for our collective children that I hadn’t really been emotionally aware of the significance of some of the anniversaries that have been flying by like so many fence posts on the roadside. It will be two years is what my stomach has been trying to tell me for the past month. Two years.
Rob asked me if it will always be this way. The heightened emotions. The sadness. I think so though I haven’t any real examples of this from my own growing up among, what I realize now, was a helluvalot of widowed people. If any of them were laid out by grief periodically every year, I never realized it because they never let it show. I think of my father’s mother who despite losing a baby, her husband when still in their sixties and her youngest son who was just 39 when he died, was someone who concentrated all her love and affection on those who meant the most to her and her warmth and friendliness was given freely to just about everyone else. Despite a brief bout with depression a few years after my uncle died, I can’t think of an anniversary or holiday that she didn’t see as an opportunity to celebrate those she lost and count herself lucky for the love she received and gave in return. And I know this couldn’t have been as simply or easy as she made it seem. I know that because I know what I feel myself. Still, it’s a better example to work towards in my opinion, and I think I can acknowledge without falling prostrate and rending my garments and smearing dirt upon my face.
The truth is that I love my life and as much as I loved Will, I am more engaged in my now than in my memories of that long ago time when he was well and loved me and we believed that the future was ours. It doesn’t mean that it is easy. That anniversaries or holidays or my little girl’s struggles with putting her half-remembered memories of her dad in context aren’t sometimes hard to bear. It doesn’t mean that I don’t fell my husband’s struggles with his own grief or that I don’t worry and hurt for his girls when they struggle. It doesn’t meant that new losses, because they are part of life, won’t bring up old grief. It does mean that I recognize that there is ebb and flow and on-going negotiations and incorporating and dealing and sometimes tears and I am okay with that.