On Widowhood After (gasp!) Two Years
"Celebrations of anniversaries of disasters provide opportunities, as do holidays." Joey Skaggs
Two years ago today my sister's husband was killed in a plane crash. She's shared her feelings about widowhood several times here. Every time I learned something. Which is what older sisters are for ... but I would have preferred to learn a different way.
Last year Judy gave us some real insights On Widowhood, After One Year. I asked Judy if she was up to another set of musings on the second anniversary of Bob's death. She came through, bigtime.
This was a difficult assignment because there was nothing monumental to write about. It was a year almost like any year, except I was still living alone. And there were times I wished Bob were here, but I did what I had to do anyway - live - and segued to the next project.
I read what I wrote last year when approaching the first anniversary. I made comments about how I felt then, and here I would like to address those comments and see how I feel now:
I still sleep on my side of the bed.
I finally went through the box of 'our' personal items. Saved some, didn't save others.
I have learned I can do just fine on my own, and it's kind of nice to live without fearing 'the look' when I failed to meet Bob's expectations.
I finally gave away all the flight suits from his closet. But mine is tucked away, waiting for someone to fly me to an air show.
I've resumed flying, which is great. What's not so great is that there's no Bob to call and tell about my great piloting. He loved my war stories.
I'm still not ready to part with his blue blazer with the Harvard buttons, his ski jacket and the Hawaiian shirt he wore on our final trip to Maui. Maybe by the time I write "Widowhood After Three Years."
Bob and I disagreed on some furniture, so I replaced the ugly dining room table and chairs, but most of the house remains the same. These familiar surroundings make me feel comfortable.
I am still learning that I don't have to explain myself to anyone. I really can do anything I want. If that sounds selfish, maybe it is. I've found that I enjoy spending time with Judy.
I can't imagine that I will ever minimize the depth and importance of Bob's and my relationship, but with determination I have learned to manage as a onesie.
No one can take away my memories, and they are still firmly packed away for the future, dosage to be determined at the time of need. Bob isn't here. That's the big fact. But I am. And I continue to believe that moping my way through life accomplishes nothing.
The tears don't flow so easily any more, though I am, after all, a woman.
When a memory of 'us' pops up I still get a little misty. But it's just another one of those memories than no one can take away. So I think past it and it gets tucked away. What's the point?
I still work as often as possible. Great distraction, great co-workers, long and hard days which keep me busy with little time for reflecting.
I did make the trip to Israel last year. Two days after my xxth high school reunion, where the women looked great and the men were fat and deaf, I was on a plane to Tel Aviv. When I deplaned I felt like I was on another planet. I couldn't read, I couldn't speak, I couldn't communicate. First question (puzzled face): "Speak English?"
I never understood, with his love of history, why Bob chose never to go there. I took in the magic of the sights, the hills, the buildings, the museums, and I wanted so much to share it with him.
I've had some personal tragedies during this year and as a result have spent a lot of time in airports. And hospitals. And bedrooms. While these have been distractions, too, I still miss being able to call Bob at the end of my day and tell him all about it. He would have offered an ear. He went to UVA and then Harvard Law School - the right words were built in.
This summer I am nursing at the camp my grandchildren are attending as rookies. I thought it would be nice to have Grammy around in these strange surroundings. Two days after camp concludes a friend and I will go to London and embark on a twelve day cruise through the Baltics, another trip Bob didn't care to take. I still don't get it. But now he'll never be able to explain it to me.
I realized why I had so much trouble trying to put these thoughts together. It's because life is lived one day at a time. Pain is temporary. Every day just happens, and you do what you have to do. I've survived a few depressing hiccups with a great deal of support from family and friends. Here I am, about to embark on my third year of widowhood ... and saying the word doesn't hurt so much any more.
I am surviving. It is not easy, but if you remain stuck in the past you will never get to the future. So tune in next year.
Once again, Judy, you've taught us what real coping looks like. Thank you. I hope you meet a new Prince Charming on that cruise. It's time.