I was doing that this morning. Staying in bed. I was all cosy under the covers, wearing my husband's Yankee jacket, holding the teddy bear he gave me. I wanted to stay there. I always want to stay there. I thought, "If I stay in bed nothing will happen." When I think that I always think - nothing bad will happen. I won't have to be awake to the fact that Artie is dead. How can that be surprising after almost three years? My mind isn't surprised but my body still is. Sometimes I'll bump up against one of my multitude of stuffed animals that covers the space where he should be and think for a second it's him. My body holds his memory in a different way than my mind. It misses his touch. I miss the way he held me and I used to hold his shirt the way my granddaughter Gwendy has just started grabbing her Mommy's shirt..
The world can be hurtful. Walking through the airport they were playing, "Lean on Me". I only let myself be sad for a moment. Artie and I always leaned on each other. I remembered us being in an audience swaying together with our arms around each other as we sang along with whoever was singing that song. I was able to roll my memories back to that time and feel the joy instead of the sadness. However, life is full of real disappointments and hurts and decisions. I liked it better when Artie was here in the flesh to talk things out with. Not that we always agreed. We were both very independent and sometimes our disagreements involved shouting. Loud shouting! However, a bad moment with Artie was so much better than the best moment without him.
Then, still curled under the covers, eyes closed - wanting to go back to sleep for another ten minutes, another half hour, another day - it was suddenly clear to me. If I stay in bed nothing good will happen either. That's an okay every once in a while thing. I haven't reached the place where I never have what I call bad old sad old days. However, I have a rule that I can only stay in the house one day in a row. Even if I only go to the drugstore for five minutes, I have to go out and be part of the world. If nothing happens there is no point in my still being alive.
I remind myself once again how much my husband loved life and how often he dealt with his problems by isolating. Sometimes I would drag him out of the house to something he didn't want to go to and then he would thank me because he had such a good time. When he got in that isolating place I would ask him what he wanted to be alive FOR. Now I ask myself that same question. He's where he is doing whatever he's supposed to do there. If there is no there it doesn't matter. When I die I won't know it. I need to know that he is with me and we will be together again. If that isn't true, I'll find out soon enough. What stories will I have to tell him when I get there if I stay in bed all the time?
It's not about having a specific time to move on, start over, begin living. If you are breathing you are living. If you are reading this, I assume that you are breathing. The question then becomes not when will I begin living - we never stopped - but what will I do with my time while I'm here. People will say, (me too), I have good times but I'm not living or I haven't moved on. I disagree with people who say that you have to. Some people don't like the idea that I am content with my sadness. Some people don't like it when I say it is difficult but I don't mind being married to a dead man. I made a joke the other day that if I do fall in love and marry again I will be a bigamist. Yet Artie used to say loving me was like breathing. Loving him is still like breathing for me. They go together. I miss him and being without him here phsyically is lonely. That's okay. Well, it's not okay - but it's the way it is. I can yell out, "Come back!" as often as I want. He can't. The Artie I loved is gone - it's ashes. The Artie I love now if what my senses tell me is real - is consciousness, is spirit - but different in a way I'm not given the power to understand. I can love him and be fully alive. I'm not there yet but I keep trying.
I wrote this a long time ago but it bears repeating, for me, every day. Go where life is. When I don't feel alive I often go somewhere where life is happening. It seeps in my pores and I forget the sad parts for a while. It's not a fake smile. I hate the idea of fake smiles. If you let a smile be your umbrella when it rains you are going to get soaking wet. That's the idea that so many people miss. When I'm laughing, I'm happy. When I'm smiling, something is giving me joy. The sadness and the joy can exist together. It's my job to emotionally and physically find increasing moments of joy and productivity. I've said this often, I'm shifting the balance.
I have to choose on a daily basis - sometimes on a minute to minute basis - whether I have a life where nothing happens or a life where something happens. If I practice what I preach; I have to be gentle with myself and forgive my failings when I fail - but I also have to push myself to get moving; to do at least one thing every day that I am proud of. A small thing, a big thing. Tell a random stranger, maybe someone at the check out counter at the grocery store, that they have beautiful hair or you like their earrings - watch their eyes light up.
Why bother now? That's the question that hurts. Sometimes it can feel like too much to bother when the person we love so much is dead. The answer I came upon today is, because it will make me feel better and because if Artie still had that dazzling smile he would be flashing it at me. "You go girl!!" That's what he would be saying. "I know it's difficult for you and that makes me doubly proud." That's what he would be saying. If I can't do it for me today, maybe I can still do it for him.
So...make something happen! Make your something happen. Your something is important. I know it is because if you weren't important you wouldn't still be here. Oh dear, that means I better shut off the computer and make something happen myself. Wish me luck. xo
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