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?

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.

 

A First of a Different Kind

There are so many times as I go along that I feel the sense of singleness, of being one and only one.  Part of a set that got broken.  My identity over the 30 plus years I spent with Kevin had happily blended with and comfortably fit into his.  We were as different as different could be, but overall, it worked.

About a week ago I had surgery.  Going into it I felt lost and just a little terrified.  There was no one to sense my terror, to talk me down before the surgery, to readjust my mindset.  Another first, and a scary one for me.  Family and friends were around for sure, but I was not about to bare my soul again, to drag people into my pit of neediness.  So I did what I always have done – I planned for the worst.   I missed Kevin dearly – he always planned for the best and accepted nothing less.  Boy, I sure could have used a Kevin fix.  I know, somehow, despite his aversion to all things medical, he would have found something funny, something to joke about.

I spent a couple of days at hospital and then came home to convalesce on my own.  When I got home I made my way up to my bed and spent a whole bunch of time feeling sorry for myself.  Recuperating on my own, no Kevin around to tell me it wasn’t that bad, I spent time wondering what the years ahead would be like and how much effort I felt like putting into them.  Not the best time to reflect on the future or make any life altering decisions, but when there’s nothing else to do, the mind tends to kick into action, and when there’s pain involved the thoughts that the mind spins are hardly upbeat ones.

I guess I must be on the mend because I had a ‘shame on me’ moment yesterday.  It struck me as to how trivial my bit of discomfort is in the grand scheme of things.  I will mend; however, there are plenty of people I know who won’t. All around me people are going through things on their own, silently – some with help, some without.  Lives get altered everyday, paths change, crises come and go; drama is all around us, you just have to look for it.

The world is a hell of a lot more than me.

 

A Vacation

I just got back from my first vacation.  The ‘first’ since Kevin died.  Since his death I have heard repeatedly from different sources to never say no to new adventures.  To try new things, not discard them out of hand.  And so, when my sister suggested a cruise, I decided to try it.  A cruise is completely outside of my comfort zone, not high on my list of things to try.  Give me an all-inclusive on the ground any day. But, as a nod to the suggestion, I decided to say yes, and then spent the next three months wondering why on earth I had.

There was apprehension on my part for several reasons.  I wondered if I would be able to enjoy it at all – my heart aches so.  It’s coming up 11 months and I miss Kevin every day. I worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the cruise experience, would I get seasick.  I was afraid of what would happen to my family while I was away, what if something went wrong and I wasn’t there for them.  Finally, I hoped I wouldn’t be one giant drag for my sister.

I’m back and the world carried on just fine.  The kids got by without me for a week.  Even the pets did!  I didn’t get seasick or have any issues in that regard.  The cruise was great fun; my sister was excellent company.  I did have my moments though, it was inevitable. One morning we met a couple of sisters travelling together just like us, one married, one widowed.  The conversation with these ladies was the hardest one I had on the trip and served to remind me that my experience is a shared one.

I am happy to be home, no doubt about it.  I have lots of observations about the cruise experience.  In a confined space with so many diverse people travelling together it was interesting just people watching.  One thing for sure is that most people are highly self-conscious and insecure.  So much posturing – to what end?  We were a ship of strangers, no need to impress; it’s about relaxing not stressing. Perhaps this was the biggest difference in my first vacation without Kevin, I spent more of it thinking rather than doing.

I Never Ask

I never ask myself anymore ‘who’s next.’  I stopped a long time ago.  Truly, right now it seems as if family and friends are under siege.  Could it be that we baby-boomers are a defective bunch?  Or is it just that life here in Canada is so harsh that it takes a greater toll physically?  That was always Kevin’s belief, he’d often say, ‘No, my dad couldn’t chose Australia.  He had to immigrate to Canada, where the winter is six months of the year, and the temperature is f***in’ 30 below for most of it.’

Yesterday a good friend told me that her sister had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Not a dire prognosis, but anything with the brain is scary.  Her sister’s surgery is set for next Friday.  In this case everything is happening so fast it makes one’s head spin.  We talk and think about it in clinical terms because it is almost impossible to conceive of on a personal level. My friend has to wait and watch and feel powerless, because she is.  Then there is my sister-in-law who recently found out that her husband (they separated years ago) has been diagnosed with lung cancer, under much the same circumstances as my husband Kevin faced.  What to say?

The thought of anyone else in my inner circle developing a serious illness is a thought that I can’t entertain.  I remember a month or so ago stopping my daughter from talking about worries she had about her infant son.  They weren’t serious concerns, but the thought of anything, of any nature, occurring to one of my children or grandchildren destabilizes me completely.  I find I that swing to the extreme and my fear gets the better of me.  A residual effect from Kevin’s death, I am aware it is irrational, but that doesn’t make it go away.  And so, for my own sanity I never ask nor do I ever wonder who or what is next.