What am I saying? Of COURSE, you can see me! An ol’ newsman who never met a story he didn’t want to write or tell? I’m quite sure I’ve been in your sights since the night you died. The question is, what do you think? You’ve been gone more than two years so I’m sure, as usual, you have plenty to say as you watch me traipsing through life each day. You knew me really well, as I knew you, but since that night you left, we’ve had way different journeys and I’m at a little disadvantage. Hanging out in the ethernet, I’m guessing you know more about what my trip looks like than I do yours.
Anyway, you may have noticed that I’ve developed a kind of (even more) offbeat way of being, of maneuvering the world on my own. In those first awful months, it was just about staying afloat, treading very dark waters until I found my rhythm. And though rhythm always jazzed us both, this tune was hardly something dance to. I could hardly envision how I would ever get through without-you life but somehow, I’m still here. When you’re dropped in water over your head, you sink or swim — and I’m swimming. (or something like it. I’m no Michael Phelps).
You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you
Here I am, hanging out in this world and ‘adulting’, as our granddaughter would say. Like all people on the planet, I’m just doing the best I can, with what I have, if you include a personal weird spin. Have you been critiquing this reluctant reinvention? A sweet widow friend you may not have met, echoed that same thought last week, as we joke-texted one night about our packing up Christmas decorations antics. As she wistfully considered her late husband’s appreciative laughter at her fight with her own fake fir, I decided our imagining must be ‘a thing’. That said, if you, my other half, if your new career is ‘wife watch’, here are a few highlights to consider:
• Got through your funeral. Hey, that’s not your everyday experience so I think it qualifies as an achievement. You didn’t exactly give me advance notice so I had no time to ask, practice or take a dry run. All I had to go with was a pair of your fav collectible knights and a devastated heart, so there’s that.
• Inventoried your entire collection of ‘stuff’. Yikes! A daunting job to be sure, considering I had no idea what I was doing with all those little suckers but somehow I figured it out. And once they were packed, sold and gone, the cluttered space got a new life –a grandkid playroom. I’m thinking you were good with that.
• I tricked out our house. Well, not exactly earthshaking renovations but replacing 20 year old wall-to-wall with really cool coastal wood flooring was a major solo decision. Oh, and remember that remote gas fireplace insert we endless talked about each time you cleaned out log ashes? Done. The only downside is that you’re not here to finally enjoy it.
• Bought two cars in two years — on my own. You saw that, right? I patted my self on the back (is that even possible?) for the first blueberry Rav4 I horse-traded for our old one, and then had to repeat the experience a year later. (extra points) I figured if you could pull a lifesaving move (read ‘otherwise possibly fatal’) in the car accident that caused it, (I know it was you) I could at least handle another go round with car dealers. Reclaiming my time!
• Took a 10-day trip to California. Hardly a newsflash to you, being as you probably watched me as I packed, but, you also knew I wasn’t exactly a world traveler. Worse, this was the first trip without you. Okay, Captain Obvious, it was a free trip courtesy of my travel writing, but it still sucked not to share it with you. So there.
• Found politics — are my jam. That MAY be an exaggeration but I’m certainly ‘woke’. As you remember, where politics were concerned, I wasn’t. Out of habit (and family of origin Stepford coercion) I flipped all one-party switches in the voting booth and was good to go. But then came alternative facts, fake news and covfefe and I could no longer look away. I don’t know what I’ll be doing politically going forward, but I’m finally listening, resisting – and marching. Yes, me.
• I gave birth to this blog. You and I were very different writing creatures with very different styles. We kept your considerable PR skills and my punchy copywriting in our respective corners, but when you left, only my words remained standing. And “I know words. I know the best words.” (Just joking) There was a hell of a lot of feelings I had sort through and it overflowed my trusty journal, evolving into this blog. So, while I’d be tempted to ask what you think about it, knowing our competitive natures, maybe that’s one thing you could keep to yourself.
• Bought an artificial Christmas tree. You and I had, and were, the real thing so I’m thinking a tree that’s not real is hardly the most problematic issue. Remember that last 10 ft tall Frasier fir we tackled into the living room tree stand? It was a feat I can’t handle alone anymore or want to, so I bought a pretty authentic looking fake. I have to say I’m pretty damn proud of the way I wrestled that sucker into submission at the end of the holiday. It only took two respective canvas bags, a lot of sweating, a little cursing, a bungie cord and bike hooks I installed with my trusty electric screwdriver. Boom!
• Traveled to NY — by bus. I know – lame. But you remember what a city-travelin’ wuss I am. (Full disclosure, I dragged a friend along, so maybe this one doesn’t count.)
• Moved my father to assisted living – singlehandedly. Enough said. You and I traveled 2 hours each way, every other week for 10 years, for which I’ll always be grateful. I’ve done the round trip myself the last 2 and still would be if Benadryl hadn’t tripped off his hallucinations. But then, you know that. Were you shaking your head as I ran from hospital to rehab, chased down assisted living centers, took over bills, banking, packing up and resettling dad nearby? Exactly. Only you know the mixed feelings that went with all of it.
Experience is not what happens to you. It’s what you DO with what happens to you.
Were these actual achievements or just what happens when you’re forced to ‘adjust’? I cannot imagine you were too surprised that, yes, I can actually take care myself – as well as the peripheral nitty gritty around me. How else would I have survived as a single mom of three? We met as independents who our long ranger status when we married. We were partners in every way, even in business. And then you left the building and the training wheels rolled out again. Like the blog I wrote in the early months about missing the phantom limb, I’ve come to make do without it, however much it sucks. I had to find out how to show up in the world alone again.
So, honey, I really hope you’re okay with what you see, and with the crazy lady you married now making necessary revisions. You left me no choice but to figure it out myself.
I hope I make you proud, but ultimately, I’m unapologetically becoming ME 2.0.