It’s a societal error to believe that it takes a year to grieve a loss. I believe it to be possibly twice as long.
I am only now starting to begin my days without having my loss be the predominant thought in my mind. There are many layers to a long term marriage that you do not completely understand until it is no more.
If you remain in the shared residence you can move through any room in your house and find this to be true. Even if you have packed up the personal belongings there is beyond that another layer. Like the rings within the trunk of a tree or the sentiment in a rock formation there will never be a time when the marriage is not a part of you. From the art you collected, and the wine you drank, to the file cabinets full of pay stubs and tax records. There are also diplomas, and trophies, and letters in boxes; signed baseballs and scrapbooks to contend with. There are unread books and tennis rackets and random car keys. I let them remain because they are the artifacts of a life, and I hold this space, where my late husband resides, not for myself, but for my children.
Yet, even beyond this, there is another less tangible layer; the table we sat at the country club, or the special grocery store we stopped at on every trip to Tahoe, or the music we listened to, and the movies we watched.
You learn after a time not to notice these things so much, they do eventually recede into the background as new endeavors, people and hobbies fill the spaces left behind.
At the country club I sit at a different table now, I prefer the back left corner with windows overlooking the pool and tennis courts. I bring new friends there, and eat different things; like fish tacos and lamb chops. Or, I go to Napa with different people, and create new memories.
I am dating now, so I am looking at my usual haunts through a new lens. I was at the Legion of Honor, Museum of Fine Art, in San Francisco over the weekend, seeing the Klimt exhibit. We sat outside on the patio in the cool sunshine among the olive trees in the salty air. We had wine with lunch. I’ve been there so many times before, but I had never done that, and it was wonderful.
Undoubtedly, I am moving forward with my own life. However, for me the biggest impact, by far, has been in the area of parenting my fatherless daughters. Typically, in divorce, children have a second parent for emotional and financial support. For better or worse, there is a second sounding board, someone to push against, or disagree with, until a compromise is eventually made. Because it’s just me, I don’t have the luxury of being the tough parent. My parenting must be subtle, protective, and gentle. I am not allowed a bad day, or moments when I am simply short tempered. I have to be soft at all costs while maintaining the necessary parent-child boundaries.
I am the sole guiding force and role model, or as they’ve called me recently, their fearless leader, although, I am fearful at times.
As one who was orphaned in their 20’s I know how important it is to have dependable, reliable, and loving people to lean on. I was blessed with a large extended family. When my mother died I had her five sisters, and my grandmother on speed dial. There was always someone to talk to. If I was ever really lonely, I could pack my bags, head North across the Canadian boarder, and stay with my aunts or one of my 24 first cousins on both coasts, and I often did. I certainly never had to be alone.
My mother’s family is very demonstrative and they never fail to tell me how much they love me, or how beautiful I am, or how talented, or even how proud they are of me. Even my cousins will remind me of what a catch I am.
Of course, they are very clear on the fact that all of these attributes are contributed by our shared side of the family, and they can not stress this enough.
My children are not so lucky however, but what they do have is a network of long term family friends, and a highly engaged and supportive community, as well as their own friends. We are certainly surrounded by love. And for this I am very grateful.
Love and blessings to all.