Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy New Year

No, I haven't lost my mind.  I know it's not January 1st, the official New Year's Day.  But for the last three years time for me has been measured by how long it's been since Eddie died.  March 16th marked three years since his death, so March 17th was the beginning of a new year for me.  The first year was all about survival ... remember to breathe, try to eat, put one foot in front of the other, make it from one day to the next.  The second year was about restoring some order to my life ... getting back into a routine, staying busy, going back to school, beginning to make some changes around the house.  The third year became more about taking care of myself ... doing things I enjoy, getting out of the house more, reconnecting with old friends, buying things I wanted whether I really needed them or not!

At some point during this past year - though I can't pinpoint just when - I began to come to terms with Eddie's suicide.  I haven't fully accepted it (and I may not ever), but I know now I can live with it.  I know what happened, even though I don't understand it.  I know I couldn't have done anything to stop it, but I still wish I could have.  I will always have questions, but I know I'll never get answers to them.  What happened had a profound effect on me, and I will be a different person the rest of my life because of it.  

Now as the fourth year begins, I don't have any major resolutions.  Finishing my specialist's degree (which I should do in October) is at the top of my list.  I plan to continue going out with my friends and spending time with my family.  We'll make our yearly trip to the beach this summer - maybe I'll even find time to go more than once this year.  I'm looking forward to a reunion with some of my best friends from college.  I don't really need anything else for myself or the house, but if I see something I like I'll probably get it.  I plan to look more towards the future and not dwell on the events of the past.  I can retire from teaching in just three years, so it's not too early to start thinking about that!  I don't know what the future holds, or even what it is that I want to do with my life from here, but I do know that I can do whatever I want whenever I want.  I'm back to living my life one day at a time again - the difference is that now it's because I want to, not because I have to.

"I'm Movin' On" by Rascal Flatts (2001)

I've dealt with my ghosts and faced all my demons, finally content with a past I regret.  I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness, for once I'm at peace with myself.  I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long ... I'm movin' on ... At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me, and I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone.  There comes a time in everyone's life when all you can see are the years passing by, and I've made up my mind that those days are gone ... I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't.  I had to lose everything to find out.  Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road ... I'm movin' on.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Right Thing at the Right Time

A few days ago I posted this quote on my Facebook page - "It's funny how day by day nothing changes, but after a while when you look back - everything is different."  I don't know who said or wrote this, but it is definitely true.  With the exception of a few days when something specific happened during the last three years, it really doesn't seem like much changed on a day to day basis.  But when I look back at the three years as a whole I realize just how much has changed and how different my life is now.  Many of the people (family and friends) and the physical aspects (house and job) have stayed the same, but my feelings, attitudes, goals, and relationships have changed.  I remember the past and think about the future differently now.  

After Eddie's death I heard all of the usual words from well-meaning people ... it will get better with time, time heals all wounds, it will get easier, there is an end to grief ... I didn't believe or even want to hear these things.  Surprisingly, though, those people were right and their words have (gradually) proven to be true.  Without realizing it at some point the initial gut-wrenching pain I experienced came to an end.  The days of feeling like I couldn't even breathe went away.  The constant ache in my chest eased.  The mornings of not wanting to open my eyes disappeared.  Very slowly and over a long period of time, healing has eventually started to take place.  That doesn't mean I never have feelings of pain, sorrow, or regret when I think about what happened.  I still miss Eddie and think about him every day.  The difference now is that the negative feelings come and go more quickly, and the bad memories are slowly being replaced by good ones.  "The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end." Isaiah 60:20

I realized just how much better things were when I cleaned out "the closet" a few weeks ago.  This was the closet in the guest room where my mother had moved Eddie's clothes to a few weeks after he died.  I had known for a long time that I needed to do something with those clothes, but I hadn't been able to make myself take care of it.  In some way knowing they were there gave me a feeling of security.  I didn't do it often, but I knew that if I wanted to I could go in there and look at them or touch them.  In a small way having them here was like having a part of Eddie with me.  I finally decided that it would be better for someone else to benefit from them though, so I cleaned out the closet and took everything to a homeless shelter.  Some of the clothes brought back specific memories that made me smile or even laugh as I took them out of the closet - the collection from his sweater-vest phase, the brown suede coat that he thought he looked so good in but that I couldn't stand, the western style shirts he was sure he wanted but then never wore, and the Carhaart overalls that really emphasized his ample "backside" (which everyone teased him about).  Cleaning out the closet and loading everything into the back of my car wasn't nearly as hard as I had anticipated.  I knew as I was doing it that it was the right thing at the right time.  The only difficult part was leaving the clothes at the shelter.  While I knew they would help someone else more than they helped me, giving them away was like losing another piece of Eddie.  Thankfully, the feeling of sadness passed and was replaced with good feelings for having done something for someone else and for taking yet another step toward healing.

"There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue.  There's no joy in merely doing things which anyone can do.  But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you never thought you'd make." -Unknown