An obstacle course is a great metaphor for grief. I’m still on it, but far enough along that I’m starting to sense the end.
“What’s new with everyone?” asked our improv teacher yesterday. It was the 1st session of class. By now we’ve been together a while, and greetings were given with hugs and smiles. Improv is based on trust; it works best when you believe that everyone has your back. The more you work with people, the more that trust builds.
When it was my turn to talk I found myself talking about how good I’ve been feeling lately, how much I’m now looking forward instead of back, and that I am starting to feel reconnected to life again. It’s true; I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that I’m feeling positive and looking forward to the future. I joined an online dating site, and while I haven’t yet had a date, just joining is a step I couldn’t have done 3 months ago. I’ve set a goal of having the second bedroom, Rick’s office, turned back into a room I can use by this summer.
I’ve accepted that I’m a widow, and that my marriage is a part of my past. I still miss Rick and wish he was here with me, but it is different now. It’s no longer raw and harshly painful. I look back fondly on what we had, but the obsessing has stopped. It’s in the past. My life is now.
And then, this morning at work, I got an email asking me about a past project. The project I was managing during 2012. The project where my emails show a gap in August, as I was spending less and less time at work, as my time at the hospital increased. The project where there’s an email from a co-worker explaining I’d be out of the office for a few weeks due to the death of my husband. That project. That year. That month.
I had to spend 30 minutes reviewing notes, materials, and emails to find the answer. It was devastating. Just the dates were enough to send me back. Here’s an email send out in mid-July. It was just before his initial diagnosis, when my life was normal. Next, I look at a document that was written in late July. We were feeling good; Rick had gotten a serious diagnosis, but it was Okay as there was finally a reason for why he wasn’t feeling good. There are a few more emails from first half of August. That was the first 2 weeks he was in the hospital, when I started feeling that everything was going wrong, when each day was bringing more bad news, but there was still hope for a good ending. Next are the incoming documents from the end of August, from that nightmare period where I was spending less and less time at work and coming to realize that the time I was spending with Rick was the final times we would have together.
I found what I was looking for and sent off an answer, but lost the peace of mind I’d had. Now I’m back, remembering that feeling of powerlessness, the realization that the chances of a “happily ever after” were getting smaller every minute. The way I felt compressed and squeezed, unable to breathe. The desire I had to run away from everything and not have to deal with anything. That feeling of being trapped in a terrible nightmare, unable to wake up or escape.
I’m feeling as lost and despondent as I was a year ago. There is a difference, though. I know I’ll feel better more quickly than I would have a year ago. I know that now, at this stage of my grief, feeling this bad is the exception, not the standard. I know that I will feel better because I have been feeling better, and that gives me hope, even right now when I’m feeling low. I’m jumping over hurdles, but this time I know they’re just hurdles and that they will come to an end.