I posted this from Lee Brice's I Drive Your Truck on my Facebook page a couple of days ago ..."I've cussed, I've prayed, I've said good-bye, shook my fist and asked God why, these days when I'm missing you so much." I chose this because it expresses perfectly what I've done and how I've felt this past week. Normally I compare what I've experienced to being on a roller coaster filled with highs and lows - happy and up one day, sad and down the next. This week has been more of a merry-go-round though. I've done everything the song says...I've gotten mad and cussed, I've prayed while at the same time questioning whether my prayers are worth the effort (though I know they are), I've blamed Eddie, myself and others. I've gone round and round with these feelings and emotions and always end up back where I started, with that same old burning question "why"? Unfortunately I'm no closer now to having an answer (and probably never will be) than I was four years ago. For the most part I do pretty well throughout the year, but I've learned to expect a setback during the weeks surrounding the anniversary of Eddie's death. I know now to prepare myself for periods of sadness and even depression during this time. Every year I tell myself that I'm going to go somewhere and get away from everything, but so far that hasn't happened. When it comes right down to it I don't ever seem to have it in me to just pick up and go away. I always end up doing the same thing - remembering, reflecting, reading, and ultimately writing.
During my time of reflecting this past week I realized several things...some I already knew but needed to be reminded of; others I'm just now learning and accepting for the first time. I was reminded once again how many wonderful family members and friends I have who saw me through the difficult times four years ago and are still there for me when I need them now. I had cards, calls, texts, Facebook messages, people who went to dinner with me, and those who just listened when I needed to talk. I am truly blessed and grateful to have these people in my life. Something not so positive that I was reminded of is how much anger and bitterness I'm still carrying around. I've worked to overcome these feelings, but they're still there buried inside and resurface from time to time usually when I least expect it. I've realized that until I deal with these feelings once and for all I'm never going to be able to completely forgive Eddie or even myself for what happened.
Recently I've been wondering whether I might be ready to have a serious relationship in my life again. I've decided after this past week that the answer is no. I took several things to the cemetery this week, both for Eddie's birthday and the anniversary of his death. One of these was a balloon that said "I love you, today, tomorrow, always." I chose that particular one because what it said is true. Despite the problems we had during the last several years of our marriage, the things we dealt with together before he died, and what I dealt with alone after his death, I never stopped loving him - and I never will. We were together for almost 30 years, and he will be with me for the rest of my life. The love I feel for him now may be different from what I felt when we were together, but it's a form of love just the same. If I ever decide to have a relationship with someone else, they will have to be understanding and willing to accept that Eddie will always be a part of me. Another reason I've decided I'm not ready for a serious relationship is that I don't tust easily (if at all). As bad as that may sound I've had to accept that it's true. My experience has caused me to constantly question myself as well as others. Until I can deal with this, just as with the anger and bitterness, I won't be ready for a relationship with anyone else.
I've also realized this week that at some point I will have to leave Columbus. I do not believe I can ever find peace, be content, or feel true happiness again living here. There are just too many reminders, memories, and even ghosts around every corner. I know I may not be able to move for a couple of years though. Because of the economy and cuts in education, I can't give up the job I have and expect to find a position somewhere else. No place is going to hire someone with 28 years' experience and a six-year degree when they can get a beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree for much less money! I understand I will just have to be patient, but when the situation is right I know I will want to move. I've mentioned to a couple of friends from my hometown that I might want to move back there one day. They think I'm crazy because in all honesty there's not much there (in terms of things to do) - no shopping malls, nice restaurants, theaters, or entertainment of any kind. But as I've told them, my hometown is a connection to a time in my life that Eddie wasn't a part of. As Miranda Lambert's song The House That Built Me says "I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it's like I'm someone else; I thought that maybe I could find myself."
The things I've thought about and reflected on this past week may prove something that a few people have said about me - I think too much and overanalyze everything in my life. While this may be true, I personally don't believe there's anything wrong with it. I think and analyze in order to understand and try to make sense of what has happened. It's something I've always done and will probably always do. I've tried to change, to relax a little more, to not think so much, and to let things just happen, but that's not me. While I know I can't control everything in my life or make things happen the way I want them to, thinking and analyzing are a part of who I am and what I do. Those who truly care about me and want to be a part of my life will accept me as I am and not expect me to change.
"We don't 'get over' the deepest pains of life, nor should we. During an average lifetime there are many pains, many grieves to be borne. We don't 'get over' them; we learn to live with them, to go on growing, deepening, and understanding." ~Madeleine L'Engle