Spring Forward; Fall Back

barefoot-hikeLast October, the calendar said I graduated. No cap and gown necessary. Completing a year of ‘firsts’ after my husband died was the only requisite for graduation. A friend who reached that mark herself not long before, warned me that the ‘second year’ can feel even worse than the first. Good talk. Seriously, this year wasn’t bad enough? How hard could the second year be?

Let’s just say I hate when people are right, don’t you?

Last year I put all my energies into ‘doing’, not being. And all the distractions worked fairly well to push me through those hellish 12 months. Gradually though, all the ‘first’ holidays, birthdays, big and small family events were put away, like that bulky down coat when spring finally settles in. And then you wake up with a thud in the real’ zone, loudly reminded that the one you love is Not. Ever. Coming. Back. I realize that’s not exactly breaking news but in the first year you shoved that little fact up on the shelf until you can handle it better. Spoiler alert: When the smoke finally clears, it’s still there — grief 2.0.

You found out the hard way, that there’s no short cut, or quick path through grief. Yet, you pushed through, cuts, scrapes and thorny brush because when you’re in the real zone you have no other choice and no GPS to help you navigate.  Richard Branson quipped that “If you find yourself stuck in the middle, there’s only one way to go – forward.” Good plan.

Things will never be what they were – neither will you. That’s what the ‘real zone’ is all about. Once the last shreds of the smokescreen are stripped away, the reality of the missing is exposed. The emotional and physical connection we had with the one no longer here is starkly visible. Continue reading

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Down the rabbit hole . . .

AliceInWonderland

You know when you take off running — just to slam to a dead stop? (No pun intended) Seriously, I was running to catch the door of the bank last week, just as it was closing — and completely missed the curb. My bad. Actually, it could have been worse – a lot worse. Lying on the cement, two things came to mind: is anything broken and, of course, did anyone see me. No to both, thank goodness. Luckily, my only casualties were scraped knuckles, one bruised elbow, a ripped pair of jeans (which still didn’t make designer status) and a completely raw knee. Ouch. But, hey, I wasn’t a “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial.

What really tripped me up, though, was the smackdown of my confidence. I’m usually a pretty strong chick. I cry easily and am a total pushover for everyone I love but I take care of myself (almost as well) as I took care of my kids. Yet, one misstep on a curb and I’m suddenly back to Grief 101. What the…?

More than the raw sting of my knee, it was the raw absence that greeted me at home that really got to me. Somehow that morning, I was still surprised that my husband wasn’t there to ask what the heck happened. He’s has been gone for a year and a half and it should be pretty clear he wouldn’t be answering the door.  So why was I suddenly caught between a surprise pity party — and getting the fraud of the year award? Continue reading