Back out there, first date

The first official try at dating was a bit of a disaster.  Fearful of dating sites, I thought I would start out with someone I’ve known a very long time.  A man who had kids the same ages as mine.  I had worked with his wife years ago, and they’d actually socialized at my house, but had divorced about 10 years ago.  I knew him … so no worries about his sanity.   Call him Fred.

So Fred had asked me out several times in the past year or so, and I’d always declined.  The invitations were to stop by his place for a drink, or hey, the kids will be home on the weekend, why don’t you come over and see them.  I never felt inclined to do so, simply because he wasn’t my type.  So, one night I’m out for dinner with a friend, and my friend says to me, “The next time someone asks – go.  Don’t over analyze, don’t think twice, just go with the flow.” Ironically, after we finished dinner and as I am heading home, I duck into the grocery store, and there he is – Fred.  And, as always he says – come over for a drink.  Just a quick one, before you head home.  I say yes.

Looking back I realize that my concern had always been that by going to his house I would lose all my power.  Just like when you get into a car as a passenger, you cede control to the driver.  I am, most assuredly, a control freak.  So, it was outside of my comfort zone, especially on a sort of informal first date, to spend it in a man’s home, and yet I made it through.

As I left his house a couple of hours later, Fred asked me if we could get together again, and I said sure.  It had been a pleasant evening, we had lots in common, why not?  By the time I got home I was plagued by guilt, filled with doubt and all the emotions associated with infidelity (at least I think that’s what it was).  Was it right, what would the kids think, what was I doing, what would Kevin think, what would my friends think, was I even ready?  The emotional churn was exhausting.  But at the end of it remained the ultimate and most important question: did I, do I, want to be alone for the rest of my life?  I knew and I know that I don’t.

So I resolved to give this a dating thing with Fred a try.  A day or so later he asked me out for the second time to a party set a couple of weeks away.  I accepted, totally unaware he was taking me to a family pre-Christmas party.  Who does that on a second date?

Living Alone

So, I now live on my own.  Entirely.  Well, me and the cat.  Its a different existence for sure.  I have found that I need to be somewhat disciplined to make it work.  Seems contrary to what one would expect.  Really, the notion of living alone could suggest utter independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom.  It can be all those things for sure, but it can also be lonely, isolated, and frustrating.  Frustrating in that I am it, just me.  There is no sharing of chores, no in-house second opinion or sounding board, no voice of reason. Isolated in that once I am inside my little house, it’s on me to reach out and engage my friends if I am feeling low.  Lonely obviously because the cat, charming as he may be, is not the most stimulating of company.

As a result I have learned some coping mechanisms that work for me.  I have learned to be more structured in my activities.  It’s easy to zone out in front of the television, but it’s not healthy.  So I ensure I work out before the tv goes on.  My go-to for dinner for the first year or so after Kev died was a cup of tea and about 8 Ritz crackers (god I love those things), but that’s not very healthy.  So now it’s a planned meal, always a little prep involved because that uses up some time too.

I tend to plan my weekends well in advance.  Have someone over, or go out some place.  There are a lot of people just like me, on their own, not in a relationship, and just looking for stuff to do.  It takes a bit to get used to arriving places solo, or going someplace on your own, and I am not quite to the point where I will go to a movie on my own, but I’m getting there.  Oh and then there’s on line dating…. lol that’s a story for another time.  I never would have ever expected to be where I am, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, isn’t it?

4 Years Later

I haven’t written on here for a while.  I got caught up in trying to create a life post Kevin’s death.  Last year, I decided to move houses, and once the decision was made it happened very quickly.  I sold the house that we raised the kids in, and it wasn’t an easy decision to do that.  The house was so full of memories and, really, of Kevin.

I’ve moved into a much smaller house, perfect for one person.  I am starting to make it my own, and anticipate the spring weather so I can discover the gardens.  I have new neighbors, they don’t know me and I don’t know them – absolute bliss!!  And I am toying with giving the house it’s own name.  A sign nailed to the tree in the front yard.  I am leaning towards something like “Safe Haven”, because that is what I envision this place to be.  My little nest tucked away from the chaos of life.

Now I need to get back to the business of writing.  It’s been too long since I sat down and let my thoughts flow.  I feel like perhaps I am closing the circle of grief just a little, I can’t explain what that means, just that there was an intensity and drive for expression right after Kevin died, and then a lull or void where it didn’t matter.  Now that apathy has passed and my interest is back and it just feels good.  It could be because it’s spring, it could just be time, it could be the imminent birth of another grandchild; it could be all of those things.

I reflect though on how everything has changed and yet the things I feared through change didn’t come to be.  I survived it.  Family stayed strong, memories remain, love remains, friends remain. Life goes on, smaller and bigger at the same time, but always moving forward.

 

Change

Change is constant.  Movement is part of each and every moment.  We move through time, we grow, we age, we learn and we change.  People change.  I have changed and will continue to change.  The experiences I’ve had, the people I have met, the places I’ve been have shaped how I react and feel and influences my outlook.

I made the comment, “People change” in conversation recently and it was met with skepticism.  But I really believe it is true that people do change.  Consider those couples that marry and seem so in tune with each other, and then a few years later you hear that they have divorced.  Not because of any other reason that something or someone has changed in their relationship and what worked before doesn’t any more.  Or think about those people who learn, out of necessity, that to survive they have to fight for what they want. It may be contrary to their nature, but they adapt to the circumstances.

I am thinking about change because it is coming to my world shortly.  I’ve had my daughter and her family living here with me and they have bought a house and will move in a week.  It was easy with them here, I didn’t have to worry about feeling lonely, since I wasn’t.  But it was tough too, for them and me, the generational divide: a young couple with a 3 year old adapting to someone completely set in her ways.  We’ve had our moments but I wouldn’t change the experience, I would do it again.  I needed them and they needed me.

I suspect that them moving out will force me to change, to find ways to keep busy, to get out there and do things to avoid feeling lonely. It was comfortable not having to push myself, but my new reality is that soon I will be alone again and I need to figure out how to make that work for me.

 

 

Three Years Later…

It was three years on March 29th.  Kevin died peacefully at home, with all of his immediate family around him.  How silly was I ever to think, to worry, that the memories I cherish would fade, that I would lose them.  They are all still there, the good memories and the tough ones. It’s magical how the mind can transport you back; how real and fresh the images are, how sharp the pain still is.  He was, for so long, the heart, the breath and the soul of this family, that I still struggle to move forward.  Kevin was, quite simply, my purpose for being, he was my world.

I read the posts our friends put up on the anniversary of his death, and I received messages from friends and family.  I reflected on what a huge loss it was when he died, what a tragedy that someone who lived life so fully lost the privilege of ‘being’ so early.  Kevin had so many plans and dreams, so much passion and love – we were so blessed to have had him in our lives.  He did the things he wanted to, without regret.  Never could it be said that he let an opportunity pass by, he believed that you had to get out there and make things happen.  I am a better person for having loved him.

I truly believe the person we are is the result of the paths we’ve chosen and the people who have crossed them or join us on them for a time. We can either learn as we travel or we can blindly go forward, that’s on us.  For the last three years I have blindly gone forward, out of necessity since it was just too painful to look for any lessons to come out of this.  But they are there, lurking around in my mind, waiting for me to sift through them.  Maybe soon I will tackle that process, because those lessons are important and it is the final legacy of my journey with Kevin – so I owe him that, to learn from him one last time.