Another Day, No More Dollars…

I’m sitting in my favorite chair watching the snow fall.  I like cold weather; I like to bundle up and bake cookies – or maybe just eat them – and feel all cozy.  But since Don died, that feeling has been hard to find again.  People tell me that there is life after death; what I mean is, that – so they say – there is a life for me, without my Don.  It’s been three years, and I’m still trying to find my way alone in the world.

The snow falling is beautiful.  Don wouldn’t have liked it; he hated being cold.  Sometimes I think, “Now I can…” whatever it is that I always wanted to do that Don didn’t.  Get a dog.  Live where it snows.  Keep the t.v. on all day – mostly  just for the sound of another voice, but still… Don didn’t like much t.v.; not that there weren’t things he enjoyed; he’d warn me before watching a sporting event:  “I’m going to want to watch the game tomorrow…” as if he somehow wanted or needed my permission, which of course, he didn’t need.  I often watched those games with him, and learned about football and basketball… I’m still not crazy about baseball – all those guys standing around, pawing at the dirt with their shoes and spitting a lot.  The spitting bothered me.  And frankly, I find baseball boring.  I like basketball, and I like football. Do I watch those games now, alone?  No.  And the truth is, there’s not much on t.v. that holds my interest anymore.  I like about 3 or 4 regular programs, but that’s about it.  So yeah, I have it on a lot, but like I said, it’s mostly for the noise.  And then, the noise can get annoying, too.  But I’m rambling.  Which is why I don’t write… I tend to ramble.  But hey, here I am writing, and rambling…

So another day, no more dollars.  It seems like since I made this move, I’ve done nothing but spend money, and there’s not much coming in to be truthful.  The move was expensive.  Getting items for my new “home” that I had completely forgotten about – like a ladder, bookcases, food… you know, minor stuff that costs a lot – was expensive.  Somehow, it seems like each month my credit card bills are bigger and bigger while I think I’m trying to keep it down.  But then there’s winter clothing.  There’s snow boots and long underwear and thicker socks and well, stuff.  And art supplies and yarn to knit, and just too much. And travel.  Travel to visit my family, to see my new grandson, travel to not be alone so much. And it adds up.

And decisions about how to spend money – should I invest in a snow blower, or should I invest in a service to clear my driveway when it snows?  I went out yesterday and managed to shovel half the driveway.  I only need half of it cleared; I only have one car.  But it was harder than I expected – I mean it’s just snow, right?  Light, fluffy white stuff, but I got out of breath easily (the altitude I think… or maybe I’m just getting fat and lazy and out of shape) and while I felt I accomplished something without falling down while doing it, it’s not something I look forward to doing again.  This storm is supposed to be over by Monday, but people who’ve lived here for years and years tell me we’ll have a harder winter than usual because they had a longer rainy season (they call it the Monsoon Season, because that’s what it is – a monsoon), so that means more snow to shovel if I plan to go anywhere.  I could hole up in the house and hibernate, but then I’d have my original problem – being isolated and alone.

I don’t want to  be isolated.  I want to get involved in the community.  I want to make friends; I want to get out there, and I want some meaning in my life.  I need meaning in my life; otherwise, why am I here?

My daughter has suggested that I consider moving near her and her family in Austin.  In Texas. Texas?  It’s not the fact that it’s Texas – a “red” state and I’m so “blue” politically –  so much as it’s the fact of the weather.  Hot and humid.  Ugh.  Or cold and rainy.  Maybe rain is better than snow – you don’t have to shovel it.  And I can only shovel so much shit… (that’s a little joke in case you missed it…as my father in law used to say, you can’t put 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag…)

But, humid means I wouldn’t have to use nearly so much lotion for my dry skin… It may be snow country here, but it’s still pretty arid – the mountains of Arizona.  But hey, I live in a forest!  With two lakes in what I call my “backyard;” that means that I have a patio that opens onto the open green (currently white) space behind my condo that I’m renting.  And theres goes someone now, walking his dog… Dogs seem to love the snow.  Dog owners are kind of like the postal service – “neither rain, nor sleet nor snow, nor dark of night…” and all that. They get those dogs out there, no matter what!

But sitting here, looking out the window at the snow falling, and the occasional brave soul walking their dog is beautiful.  Everything is white; the snow is quiet; the flakes are actually very big right now.  So for today, I’ll spend another day inside, watching the flakes swirl and blow and fall and enjoy the silence of the white stuff we call snow.  And maybe I’ll find a good movie on t.v. and sit here and knit.  At least I can’t eat my knitting… and I’m out of cookies, so for today, I won’t have to worry about the fat and lazy thing… but tomorrow is another day, and probably another story.  And there’s still no more money coming in and I’m not quite sure, at this stage of my life, what I want to do about that.  I’ll have to think on it… as my father in law used to say.

Waiting…

Waiting.  It seems like I spend more than 1/2 of my life waiting for something. Waiting for the train to pass so I can cross the tracks when I’m already late.  Waiting for a doctor’s appointment when the doctor insists his/her patients be there 5 – 15 minutes prior to their appointment time and then waiting until one-half of an hour after the designated time to actually get taken “back” to see the doc.  Waiting in lines – at the market, the post office, the DMV… waiting.  Waiting to feel better, waiting to go to sleep, waiting for the internet – which lately is slower and slower.  Waiting for a call to be returned, waiting for lab results, waiting for the cable guy to show up.  Waiting for the Obamacare website to actually work; waiting to see if I’ll have insurance for the month of December; waiting for my current COBRA insurance to run out at the end of November; waiting to get through this terrible pain from losing my husband, the love of my life, my soul mate (really – my soul mate); waiting for a waitress/waiter to come and take my order because I wasn’t ready the first time they asked, and then they seem to forget I’m actually sitting at the table.  Waiting for a bus, waiting to board a flight that is late, waiting to get off the plane once it lands and pulls up to the gait.  Waiting for the ducks in my “backyard lake” to figure out I don’t have food for them and for them to get off my patio that they keep messing up.  Waiting for paint to dry and grass to grow.  Waiting to see if the plant I brought home will actually live, because I don’t have green thumbs… more like black.  Waiting for time to simply pass because sometimes, without my husband here with me, it seems like it just goes on and on.

At the moment I’m waiting for my daughter to deliver her first baby.  She’s been in labor since about 4:00 p.m. yesterday and now it’s 1:15 p.m. today – Sunday.  This baby was already 5 days late, and today is 6 days.  So I’m waiting to find out when I’ll be a Nana for the third time. 

This is my second daughter’s 1st baby.  They opted for a birthing center birth, which is maybe a good thing.  If she’d gone to a hospital, they probably would have done a c-section by now, or started pitocin or something to stimulate her contractions; she and her husband did not want that.  As long as the baby isn’t stressed, this is birth.  This is how women have been giving birth for hundred’s of years – waiting.  Waiting to get pregnant in some cases, waiting for labor to start, waiting for each contraction to be over, waiting for labor to end.  Waiting for that new little life to come on out and say “hi!” to the world.  With this daughter, I was in labor for 22 hours, and she still wouldn’t engage her head (she never dropped into my pelvis, therefore my cervix would not dilate), and I did end up having a c-section birth.  But when I held her in my arms for the first time, and she just looked at me, it was all so worth it. And when she finally gets to hold her new son in her arms, it will be worth it.

But for now, we’re all just waiting…

 

Life Goes On… Just like I seem to do…

What does that mean, exactly?  The title of this post, I mean.  (Sorry, I’m not always as clear as I’d like to be…)  We’re born, we live, we die.  Does that sound too fatalistic?  But isn’t it true?  Hopefully, somewhere along the way, we leave a footprint – the good kind of footprint. The kind where we make a difference in someone’s life, or maybe in many people’s lives.  We’re remembered after were “gone.” Where we go to, I don’t know.  I do know what different belief systems say:  “Oh, he’s going to hell for sure…”; “She’s with the angels now…”; “G-d wanted him home…”; “there’s nothing; just death and then nothing…”  It all depends on who you talk to, your own personal belief system… and maybe things that happen that change that belief system.

When my husband was dying of cancer, I sat by his bed and kept telling him it was okay to go.  I didn’t know where he was going, just that he was going; he was leaving this earth, this life and me.  Most of all, me.  I wanted to scream at him, “Don’t go! Don’t you dare leave me!  I still need you!”  but how can you blame someone for dying?  Grief does strange things to us; and yes, there is anger in with the pain; the hole in my heart that three years later is still there; that will always be there.

But I digress.  We are born, we live, we die.  When Don died, my entire belief system about life after death, about the possibility of a G-d, a higher power, a supreme being – call it what you will – changed.  As I sat with him his last morning on earth, giving him morphine to control his pain, he kept reaching upwards, and looking at the top of the wall in front of him.  I knew he was seeing something or someone.  I also felt in my very core that he was not hallucinating.  What I saw Don experience was too similar to too many hundreds of stories I’d read and heard over the years of other people dying.  And even if he wasn’t able to speak at that point, he was able to reach out to me, to hold my hand, to look deep into my eyes as if he were trying to memorize my face.  And then he suddenly said, very clearly, “well I guess so” when I said, again, it’s okay to go.  I was a psychotherapist, and in my training years, worked for hospice, leading bereavement groups.  I learned a lot from my clients, my grief-stricken clients who had just lost the loves of their lives.

I learned that in grief, community is important.  Telling your story – no matter how many times – is important.  Getting that understanding from others who don’t try to “fix it”; who don’t say they understand when there is no way in hell they can possibly understand because they have not been there is important.  And hope is important; hope that you will get though this – because there is no getting over it or around it or under it – you just have to get through it, and the reality is you have to do it alone (with a little help from your friends…to quote one of my favorite songs) and the other reality is that you WILL get through it.  I will get through it.  There may be times that yes, I want to be dead because the pain, at times, is so deep and so paralyzing all I can do is ask “why am I still here?” while I sit on the floor – yes, three years later, I still sit on the floor crying and yelling at Don for leaving me, and then acknowledging that I am grateful he is not suffering; that he no longer knows agonizing pain and illness.  But here I am, lonely as hell. 

So watching Don die, having our two daughters there, my daughter’s fiancee, her best friend  (who simply got up and called the mortuary without even being asked – just being thoughtful and doing what she could for us), my belief system was challenged, and I knew, I just felt it, that there is something after death. Don saw something – I’ll never know what it was, but whatever it was, I hope I see it, too, when I lay dying.

I mentioned hope.  What does one hope for when the love of their love is gone? When it feels like their life is certainly, must be, has to be, over? When the future one expected and planned for and waited for is gone?  I can only speak for myself, but my hope – well, I have several hopes:  I hope that my “footprint” is one that made an impact on people’s lives:  my middle school students when I taught school (even if it’s only one or two kids out of the hundreds who passed through my classroom); my graduate students when I taught in a graduate psychology program (even if only one or two are better therapists because of something I taught them); that the clients I saw over the course of 12 years are living better, happier lives.  And I hope for myself, that I find a new purpose; that I find a reason why I keep waking up each morning – alone.  But my biggest hope?  That someday, when my soul leaves my body, I am reunited with the one true love of my life – my Don.

. Image

And as I learned from a wonderful organization called Soaring Spirits and the amazing woman who started it:  “Hope Matters; Love Never Dies” (Soaring Spirits – http://www.sslf.org).