I’ve seen rainbows occasionally over the years, but never on a regular basis. I consider it a rare occurrence to have seen double rainbows two days in a row, in approximately the same place and about the same time. Did you know that the second rainbow always appears higher in the sky with the color spectrum reversed? The difference between the two rainbows sounds simple – sunlight reflecting off each raindrop twice instead of once – but to me, how it’s possible for drops of clear liquid to reflect light to create an arch containing rows of every color in the same order, is beyond me. I’m a reflection as well, of all the paths I’ve taken, revealing a life capable of portraying moments of spectacular. My husband’s life still shines through me, which is why you can sometimes see his colors sprinkled in with mine. My husband and I shine a second time through our kid’s lives, mixing our colors with theirs. We’ve all been influenced by each other’s raindrops because, just like the sun, we’re sometimes covered by rain clouds, but we can shine after, letting our light reflect off those last remaining drops to show off our amazing colors!
Several times a day, my grandson takes the opportunity to use his favorite saying: “You never know, but there’s always hope.” He uses this every time something comes up where the outcome or answer is unknown. Will T-ball get rained out? If the sun comes out we can go to the park. Do you think our block tower will fall down? It doesn’t matter if he hopes so or hopes not, it’s all about turning to hope when you don’t know. The saying “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” can be turned into, Tis better to have hoped and lost than never to have hoped at all. What’s the alternative, fear and gloom while waiting for the outcome or answer? The same amount of time ticks by as I wait, but there’s a huge difference in how I spend it. I make a choice to have a positive outlook or a negative one, neither having any effect of the outcome, which may end up being disappointing, but at least I spent however long it took to get there carrying joy in my pocket. So much better than carrying despair on my back.
I love to sleep, which is why I’m frustrated when I can’t and don’t want to get up when I can. The embodiment of cozy is snuggling into a warm comfy bed on a cool or rainy night followed by a morning when I don’t have to get up early. It became fairly easy to get up at 5:30 after a few years of doing so. I did this for 26 years, but now the same easy is upon me to NOT get up when there’s no rush to get out the door or nothing pressing to get up for. I realized I have to set the alarm anyway because cozy doesn’t always mean healthy. Every morning it’s a mental and physical battle to not lay there too long. It’s not depression or sadness keeping me there, just the desire to enjoy cozy. It’s nice and cozy enjoying pie, and peanut butter and chocolate chips, but unhealthy must be factored in so I don’t indulge too much. It’s nice and cozy to NOT exercise and eat salad, so these will always be a struggle. If only the opposite was true – what a cozy, healthy world I’d live in!
My daughter used the words “youthful enthusiasm” to describe her father’s “belief in the possibilities of life and the worth of dreams”. He managed to maintain this outlook on life in spite of the numerous struggles he faced as a child and throughout his adult life. Those struggles were a result of his ever-present goal to reach higher, to change his life for the better, to dream. He could have settled any number of times for the job he was in or be satisfied with a few accomplishments, but he didn’t. Always wanting, and I believe needing, something more. More fulfilling, more meaningful, more life-changing experiences. It was never about the money because becoming what you really want to be takes a lot more than that. I wish I had a photo of him hiking an Adirondack trail, carrying his fully loaded pack basket. If you’ve had the misfortune to use one, you’d know the incredible amount of strength and determination it takes to carry such as unyielding contraption, which is why that photo would describe him perfectly. It’s not that his struggles never got him down, it’s that he always rose above them to see what was yet possible.
Why does a young father die on his way home from work after someone ran a red light? Why does a college student end up paralyzed after diving into the water with his dad? Why does a man who’s wasted his life for years, survive his first heart attack but not my husband, who gave all he had to make a difference? All of these were a result of something unseen in normal, everyday, life situations. They remind me I can’t do anything about what I can’t see so I better do something about what I can see – me and those around me. Whether it’s eating less so I don’t have to buy bigger clothes or expressing my love to those I love; making a difference in the lives I care about. It’s not just seeing either, it’s acknowledging and taking action if action is required. I’ve been eating too much lately because I’m not happy. Do I ignore the weight gain since I’m happy or figure out a new healthier happy? Do I spend 4 hours in a car on a Sunday to spend time with my Mom or let my sisters keep her company? I see – I do.
Life changes stink. I go along, making progress towards not sure what, and then in a moment something happens, turning everything upside down, splitting each day into two extremes, something I’ve never experienced before. There’s still the times of great joy and lots of fun, but now when alone arrives, as it always has, it’s intense, like me and my feeling have been discarded. A friendship, I hoped for, hasn’t happened and so it’s time to let it go. I’ve felt alone before, but I’ve been able to figure out how to balance it with the hope of making a friend here. But, just like I can’t make someone love me, I can’t make someone be my friend. I know I’ve got to replace it with something to get my balance back, but what? Maybe it’s just acceptance, which means figuring out how to enjoy my own company. Then there’s the decision to stick to one of only two things I need from someone else. I feel like I’ve done something wrong. I know I haven’t but why else would I feel dismissed? I’m a giver, not needing much, but that doesn’t mean I have an endless supply of yeses.
There are still days when the pain of his death is overwhelming. The intensity of the grief returning like it did right after waking up to the reality of that event. Anger, unstoppable tears, intense sadness, and feeling sorry for myself, things that I’ve overcome and yet here they are. Is overcome the right word? If not, maybe I haven’t made as much progress as I thought towards accepting, and adjusting to, living alone. People lose lots of things, like the watch I lost recently, not of any real importance; fairly easy to accept, no life adjustment needed. Then there’s the life-changing losses, like a spouse, eye sight, or use of your legs; the things that land in your lap, something you don’t want, impossible to get rid of. But I don’t have to get rid of that loss to overcome it. When I realized I couldn’t let it linger in my lap, I started tossing it into the air, each time higher and higher creating longer and longer periods of time without it. How long should I let it stay after it comes back down? Just long enough to acknowledge its presence and then give it a big toss.