How can I criticize the life I chose to lead or a woman who is no longer here to defend to talk about the life once lived?
That’s a question I get asked in a whole myriad of different ways; different permutations. They all ask the same thing, though: “how can you possibly be moving on?”
I’m not moving on. I’m living.
I stated this before: I honor my past . . . all our shared past . . . but I still have to live. That’s the biggest thing. When it all comes down, I’ll still be around. I don’t just survive the loss of my wife, I came to the determination that I need to live as well. So where in the past I’d watch life go sliding by and be comfortable watching the parade go by it’s not something I can do now. It’s not a reaction to the loss it’s a realization that I have to live my own way.
Sometimes I think others fail to realize that the things they’re seeing me do and try and live are new to them. I’ve had two full years to come to terms with this. That’s the hard part they don’t realize. In the days, weeks, and months after you lose your spouse people come up and give you the sympathy and – God help me – the pity. What they often don’t realize is the fact that the small things that spark their memories: seeing me and the kids; smelling a perfumed lotion; hearing a song; all those things may make them think of Andrea. They may get sad and it may affect their day in some way. What they don’t realize is that they get to go back to their day. Our day, mine and the kids, particularly in the days and weeks after losing Andrea, was totally up in the air. Our lives – our daily lives – were intertwined with this person. There wasn’t a singular thing, not one, that didn’t involve her. Hearing music; doing the laundry; reading a book; watching television; hell, even making toast was something that on every given day involved having that person in the room and part of your life.
Then two years ago that part of my life was over.
Where most people get to go back to their lives and the affectation that touched them is gone, like a singular bullet that may have grazed them in the ear, for my kids and myself we were in the bottom of a crater, hit by emotional bombshells even the minutiae of the day dropped on us.
So early on I did things that didn’t touch the trigger. I played the guitar and made music. Those things Andrea only barely tolerated, and while they were cause for many a fight, I still did them.
For the last four to five years we were content, sure, but more than that we were complacent. I cooked more than the same 3 or 4 meals, I got adventurous. I cooked desserts and made dinners and got wild with cakes and cookies and whatever I could find.
So by now, two years later, I’m not just surviving, I’m seeing the parade approach and I’m joining it.
That’s not to say all my kids are in the same place. Everyone grieves, you see, at a different pace, in a different way and we all see the world and the emotions affecting us in different ways. Some have dealt with the loss and are seeing the wound turn to a scar. Others are still bleeding. But I recognize that and can only do what I can to comfort and help. The best thing I heard this week was my oldest, Abbi, tell me that she and the kids had so much fun on our vacation that they totally forgot, until the end of the day on the 26th, that it was the day their Mom had died. It wasn’t I was trying to get them to forget, I was trying to get them to live. They did it, and the day came and went, with honor, love, and dignity. That was the goal.
But my kids and the world need to know, as the King of the Blues so aptly states up there, “when it all comes down, look for me, and I’ll still be around.”