Something I read recently talked about the ability to view everything in your life as if it is exactly what is supposed to be and is perfectly timed. After I said, “Yeah right!” I thought, well, that person is wiser than I am and that does seem to be a theme in many major Sacred Writings, maybe I should not discount the thought so quickly. I decided to write about it.
Right now in my life I have several significant pains. The main emotional pains right now are being a widow of ten months (after 47 years of marriage), having adult children and a grandchild who are so hurting from the death of their father/grandfather, feeling a need for more friends and anxiety in how to find them, and looking at my future and having only a very fuzzy picture of what it will be. Then there are the physical pains. I am blessed that these are not huge in my life, but there are annoying ones. My knees hurt and limit my mobility, my feet hurt, my thumbs hurt, sometimes my back hurts. Like I said, no biggies, but distinct annoyances that affect how I conduct my life on a day to day basis. That is the catalog I am going to work with for this short reflection. So, how are these joyful? They don’t seem to be, so I am making an assumption that I am not seeing the complete picture.
Let’s start with the emotional; that pain is much more blatant and acute. One joy that I have actually been aware of practically since Bob’s death is that the pain of his absence is a direct reflection of the love that we had. As with most married couples we had our ups and downs with each other. This pain has shown me that the ups were incredibly more frequent and more intense than any of the downs. Seeing the pain as an indicator of love makes it somehow sweet and tolerable. Can’t say it is joyful, but there is a distinctly positive aspect to it.
I have been able to handle everything that the Universe has thrown at me over the last nine months (appliance repair, plumbers, well drillers, tree removers, alarm system people, home repairs and modifications, furnace repair – a busy ten months!). That has been an affirmation that I can handle being a widow; I am not going to collapse into a helpless puddle – at least not all of the time. If not a joy, that is at least comforting.
As much of the great literature says, crises and painful times also take us to prayer. That has been true for me. Prayer has become much more important to me. Again, not quite joy, but a distinct sense of a new (for me) source of comfort when life becomes a bit too much. Prayer time also provides me with a deeper sense of connection with Bob. I ask that he can pray with me for friends and for family. We did not often pray together when he was alive and I truly value that new sense of connection. And it is something that I can do at a time when I feel there are many areas of my life that are truly out of my control.
Seeing the pain of my children and grandchildren has been so hard. Seeing the effects of prayer in creating some healing has indeed been joyful. As the surviving parent, I am clearer that I have responsibilities to do somethings. When Bob was alive it was “our” responsibility. Often when something belongs to more than one person, no one actually takes ownership, so no one actually does what ever it is that is needed. Now the responsibility is clearly mine, so I know that if something is needed, I need to do it. Clarity is good; it gives me direction.
The pain of isolation has made it really clear that I need more friends. At first that task seemed daunting. And then I started to make a few tentative steps into some new arenas. It is too early to tell, but the first efforts have been pleasant. I met some interesting and friendly people. I can see the possibility of friendships developing. And the next steps out into the unfamiliar world of Let’s Make Friends will be a little less daunting.
The concept that I am a widow is still something I am trying to wrap my head around! I am doing what needs to be done and my husband died, so I AM a widow, but my identity is not “Widow.” I am not sure it will ever be. It will be a descriptor, but not an identity. Now, what will my identity be? That is still an unanswered question! I see glimmers every so often, but then the light changes and the glimmer goes away and a different shape appears. I will have to be content with complete unsettledness on this question. And I don’t like unsettledness. This does not feel joyful! But it does feel full of potential. That is exciting.
On to the physical pains. I will deal with them all together because they all do the same thing to me – keep me from doing all of the things I want. I do not have any pat answers here. I have had to slow down to avoid hurting too much. That gives me more time to read and write and do handwork (knitting, spinning) and think. It is the thinking that gets me into the most trouble! “Well, Gee, I could start ….” “Wow! Look at that! I could do ….” “What I really want is and I can’t find it. Hmmm, maybe if I ….” I have been having thoughts of becoming a writer, of learning more Qigong and Tai Chi and becoming an instructor, of becoming a homeopath, of ….. The list seems to go on and on. The list would be much shorter if I were moving more. So, perhaps this lack of mobility is creating new opportunities for me.
If I could easily move and go more, I would probably be trying to escape the unpleasantness of grieving. Perhaps being less mobile has allowed me to be more introspective and to ponder what all of this means and how it has affected me. Perhaps sharing that information through writing might help someone else.
These are not exactly joys … yet. This is all just starting to grow. I can see some of the writing and teaching and sharing creating a great deal of joy for me in the future. I see the joy coming from meeting new people and finding new friends, helping others through some tough times, watching other people’s (and my) pain decrease and mobility increase as we practice Tai Chi and Qigong.
The pains are real. The joys are still young. I think I will raise my glass (or cup of tea) to the expectation that the joys will blossom and create more wonder in my life.