It's the ultimate question that we all ask, after all. I am in a writing grief group with two other widows. Often, our writings and our talk comes back to the issue of how we create a new life for ourselves when such a huge piece of our lives has gone and the unimaginable pain of it. The truth is, do we really want to create new lives? What choices do we have? We agree we are not suicidal and know that our beloved husbands would not want us to have this sense of not wanting a new life; they would want us to go on; be happy. The problem is, its just so damn hard! And, there is no roadmap, no special guide, no secret way to survive, no class you can pass to make it better. You just breathe in and breathe out; time passes. There are the constant reminders: mundane and not so mundane tasks that were once shared: trash night, driving the kids to school, taxes, grocery shopping. You learn this list is endless. The single life is harder having lost your partner who once shared tasks of daily living. I was spoiled and didn't know it.
What's worse is the loss of the one who validated you, that would listen to your vents and agree the other person was really the ass, not you. The one who told you how special you were in words and actions. The one who cheered you on, supported you in the worst and darkest times, and shared in your joy and happiness, laughed and cried with you.
When we knew Jim was terminal, he told me that he was going to find me a new husband before he died. My immediate response was "Shut up!" I didn't want to hear it. It made real what I wasn't ready to face. As was our way, I made a joke of it and told him the next morning that I knew who I wanted for a husband. "Paul McCartney, he's single [was at the time], doesn't believe in prenups, and I always thought he was the cutest Beetle." I then would pick other "new husbands" based on how "hot" I thought they were. What I know is that Jim was serious about this and had sincere conversations with friends and relatives about helping me find a new husband. So I have a deep understanding, knowing how he loved me, of what he wanted for me in this life without him.
The question I have: what do I want? What do I want to create out of this? Sometimes I wonder how many more years I will live, how many more I want to live, really. I heard the other day that the average American lives to 78 now, or maybe it was 79. Holy crap, that's a lot left for me, if I live for the average. I keep waiting for the universe to guide me. I contemplate all the ways I could volunteer or help others, all the causes to get involved in. Nothing sticks. I suppose I am still in the survival mode. Making room for the time to grieve and not pushing myself to answer THE QUESTION.
When my father died, my stepmother told me that it was really only her life that would change. I didn't get it; thought she didn't understand my pain and sorrow. Now, of course, I see how right she truly was. Oh what I wouldn't give to have a long conversation with our SuSu about this now. (Or what I wouldn't give to not need that conversation.) Somehow, she found a way; I hope I will too.