“Concentrate on what is, not what can’t be.” (Eternal on the Water) When I want something so badly it’s hard to get it out of my head. I did this with the house I loved, pushing for the purchase to happen and comparing the one I bought to that one long after it couldn’t be. Getting stuck on something that can’t be maintains all kinds of bad feelings, like regret, failure, disappointment, and also lacking. With something that never was, I still manage to miss it, even though it’s impossible to miss something I’ve never experienced. With something like my marriage, which was but can’t be, the memories of what I had create a deficiency, a deficiency I can’t do anything about. Only after getting past the wanting of it, to make the can’t real, can I focus on what is. I may not like what is, I may even hate it, but it’s the only thing I have to work with. I can make the best of it or be miserable in my dislike and wanting. I may not have that house, but I do have this one. My husband may not be here, but I’m here. What is; the start of possibilities.
“We start from where we stand. . . No sense looking back.” (Eternal on the Water) When hiking in the Adirondacks I’m thrilled to get to the top. Doesn’t matter how long, how high, or how difficult the trip. The first thing I find is a great spot to stand and take in the view. Standing to me means an end of something; the pause before starting again. When it comes to starting again, the trip up does matter. If it’s been long and difficult, I’m tempted to just stand, forever if possible. If it’s been more of a challenge than I thought, I might start out slow, picking up the pace after working out the dings and dents in both body and spirit. Sometimes the trip up is amazing, making it easy to start again, only to find the next trail slippery or even impassable. And when it comes to looking backwards while walking forward, it’s pretty easy to bump into things, lose your way, or stumble and fall. However I got to the place I end up, I’ll be standing at a new starting point, in good shape or bad. After a breather, I’ll start anew, putting the past behind me where it belongs.
“. . . we might be right on the verge of a wonderful year, but we wouldn’t know it right now. The most fantastic thing in the world could be just around the bend, but you sit and look at this one small corner and you think that’s the end of it.” (Eternal on the Water) Hindsight, so perfectly clear, infringes on the only thing our foresight can be, hopeful. The word verge means the edge or approaching. Every minute of the day we’re approaching the next, expecting, but not knowing for sure what it will bring. All the minutes spent and those to come make up a life, one that can’t be lived on a straight road. Choices are made by and for me and things happen beyond my control, creating intersections and curves, opportunities to change direction. When at a crossroads, I can’t just sit there and reflect on what happened after making the last turn, because I’ll never get to see what could be waiting just around the bend, just out of sight. Where I’ll be in the next minute or two or a thousand, wherever each turn or curve takes me will be somewhere new, so why not expect it to be amazing?
I recently enjoyed the book Eternal on the Water, so I’ll share a few quotes in these next few blogs. “You go on, Cobb. Honor me by going on. Pedal down, live it all. Promise me?” Cobb’s wife was dying; they knew this when they married. The reason she gave for going on wasn’t about him, but about her, to honor her, her life, her love for him. She didn’t mean just exist either, which is living, but in the smallest sense of the word. She wanted him to go all out, experiencing all that living implies in the largest sense of the word; never tiring of discovering all things new and never shying away from the entire range of human emotions. He promised her, knowing she would never know if he kept his promise or not; but he would know. My husband never said these words to me, but he would have, if given the chance. I don’t see it as getting over it and moving on, but rather smashing through the road block his death put in my way and successfully navigating a new route, going on, finding peace, love, heartache, and whatever else life throws my way.
I can’t remember many things about the first few days after my husband died. There are certain conversations, and a few people and events, but it’s mostly a huge blank. Even after being told things that happened or were said, I can’t recall them, just as if I wasn’t there. There’s a song that says, the pain and ache a heart can take, no one really knows. I believe it isn’t possible to know until you face it. I remember hearing a woman where I worked answering a call informing her that her sister had died. I thought, how would I react to something like that, but could only come up with I don’t know. His death, the hardest thing I’ve yet to experience, gave me my answer. My heart had reached the limit of hard, so it took in what it could and shut out the rest, the most painful, horrific, parts of this sudden reality. It knew who I couldn’t let in, what words I couldn’t hear, and what decisions I couldn’t be part of. I’ve asked about those days, once my heart was open to receive them. I don’t need to remember to bring closure, just know.
One of the hardest things I’ve done related to my husband’s death was moving the second time. Most of my things were moved shortly after purchasing my new home, but the rest came after our house sold, more than a year later. I arrived the evening before the rental truck and friends came, since I had some packing to do. I wasn’t prepared for the crushing, incapacitating, silence and forgot that most of what was left was my husband’s. Alone was something I avoided, if at all possible, since his death so I don’t know what possessed me to spend the night there. I should have guessed what it would be like – no television or music to occupy my thoughts, and barren rooms, hollow and cold. Everywhere I went, there was no life. I hated this place now, every inch no longer resembling what it was when we shared a life there together. I had a job to do so I went. I needed the closure, cutting the threads to that house, to that life, to the old me, but not to him because I took him with me, still present in my new home, new life, new me.
While walking in the woods with my grandson, we left apple cores behind for the deer. He said, “maybe a lion will eat them”, to which I replied, “lions don’t live around here”, to which he replied “you never know”! Now that’s what I call an utmost belief in possibilities! It’s a shame that as we grow up, disappointments, failures, and obstacles cloud our belief that all things are possible. Actual experiences arrive, creating a longer and longer ruler by which to measure our chances of success, with each failure pushing the mark of success further and further out. I have yet to stop trying, but can understand why others do. I believe adults measure success very differently than children, who, in their small world, find great joy in small successes. I’ve learned it’s extremely helpful to break down the things I’m trying to accomplish, or get through, into small pieces so the joy of success comes in stages, providing the means to keep moving forward towards the final goal. I’m talking about all kinds of goals; from jobs, to losing weight, to just mowing the lawn. Big mountains, cut down into several small ones, not so insurmountable after all!