After the After

HeartHandsSunsetPublic service announcement: There’s no room for BS in the ‘after’. Drama isn’t welcome either. A crash course in death makes it pretty clear that all you can do is wrap your arms around the now. That’s all you have. The idea that in a nanosecond you can go from wife to widow brutally teaches the importance of focusing on things that matter. Death makes life too real not to reconsider how you’re living it.

Oh, I certainly don’t have everything figured out. In fact, most days, I fly by the seat of my pajamajeans. (I seriously love those things) But, living after —the after, I have a greater appreciation for the right now. I’m hardly always Zen. Like everyone else, I have moments that catch me up angst. My kids can assure you that my worry meter is even more often than usual on high alert and my poor grandkids are stuck with helicopter gramma. Oh, well.

Kierkagard once said “The most painful state of being is remembering the future.” Well, that pretty much sums up the grief of loss, doesn’t it. We’ll never NOT remember that our futures would have been better, fuller, hurt less with our loved ones in it. We had no say in what happened  to them but we do for ourselves. We get to do is say ‘yes’ to now and will figure the rest as we go along

These days my priorities have shifted; my emotional to-do list is lighter. As business partners, my husband and I were more entwined than many; his cancer sewed us even more tightly together.  To be suddenly operating solo is real paradigm shift, one that we have no choice but to make. The ‘how’ is up to us. Though Death gives us no choice and no reprieve, life does. Even when the daily living of it feels inconsequential and meaningless, we can still try to make the rest of our lives the best they can be.

Today, time with family is even riper with meaning and memories. My friends and all they are to me, have never been more treasured. And there’s never a day I could say “I’m bored”, thank goodness! Don’t get me wrong, there are still ‘moments’. There are many times missing my husband gets the best of me. Memories can kneecap me yet, there are other days now and thoughts of life still to be despite the one that isn’t.

Death doesn’t end a relationship. All we do is emotionally relocate the people taken from us. It’s not an instant process but one that continues throughout the rest of our lives. After the hell of the first year, I’m seeing daylight, more appreciative of the ‘small things’, and certainly try not to sweat the big ones as much. I want to love more, laugh more, help more, and hold the hands of both the hurting and the happy more.

The After is tough but so are we. There’s no playbook for it so we just go through it the best we can, with the most grace we can muster (tears are still allowed). It doesn’t matter if all you can manage is to whistle in the dark, or are brave enough to forge ahead.

Whatever’s good for your soul — do that.


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