What’s in a Name?
I have been thinking a lot about the blogs here in Serene Women. At the moment there are two; Loss: Hole to Whole and Evolving Serenity. I have wondered what to do with them. I was considering suspending them for a while; a novel, or at least a long short story, has me intrigued and I want to spend time with it. But I decided that I want to continue the blogs because they help me reflect on life and that is important for me. And some people have said that the blogs have helpful to them. So, they will stay.
And I have been thinking about the blog, Loss: Hole to Whole. The name isn’t accurate now. It may never have been accurate, but it certainly isn’t now. Throughout this whole process I have been exploring what Bob’s death created – for me, for my life, and for our marriage.
For me, I have recognized that I have always been whole; Bob’s death did not affect that. That sounds cold but it feels right. I was a whole person when we met in 1962, incompletely formed as an adult, but a whole person, none the less. He and I both grew over the subsequent 50+ years and we strongly affected each others’ growth. But we were whole to start with and we both got bigger and better and continued to be whole.
So, where did my idea of a hole come from? That was my life, not my self. My life was shattered by his death and had huge missing pieces, but the essence that is me did not have missing pieces. The hole was in how I lived my life every minute of each day. His presence was gone and all that he did was missing. Meals were different, going to bed was different, taking trips was different, maintaining the house was different, everything was different. And that difference was holes. He wasn’t there. Huge voids. Gaping wounds. And I am beginning to see that they will never be filled or healed. Something else happens, but the holes don’t go away.
The physical therapist in me is popping out for analogies. A person who loses a limb has a hole in their function – they can’t walk or pick something up. So they get a prosthesis that allows them to walk or manipulate objects. But the missing limb doesn’t regrow. It is always missing; the person learns to function around that loss. That is sort of what it feels like. I am learning how to work around Bob’s absence. I have found a fellow to repair or build things I need, I have different ways of dealing with meals, I am finding different people to talk to. The sleeping business has no fixes! And these are sort of like prostheses – they allow really high levels of function, but they are not healed wounds or filled in cavities. They are bridges over holes or peg legs. I am in a hotel as I write this and I have started to pick the phone up to call him twice. Sometimes I forget that the limb isn’t there and try to use it like it was. Always disappointing.
The third impact of Bob’s death was on our marriage. I think the word there is that it was transformed. It changed character and the rules changed but it is still there. At first I described it as ended, but that never felt right. I have talked about rings and ceremonies often in this blog. I won’t rehash that. At this point our marriage feels mysterious. I have nothing concrete about our marriage, but I know it still exists (with a whole different set of rules) – and weird things happen. On my trip to my brother’s home, at one point in the drive I was feeling stressed by the traffic – and not having Bob to talk to and be with. What passes me but a flat-bed truck loaded with 2” x 6” boards. Our house is made of those boards and Bob built our house. It felt like a reminder that he was there and I could stop being anxious. It was a sweet incident, but it sure doesn’t replace him in the seat next to me.
This blog started with me wondering about the name for the blog now. Maybe the physical therapy analogy needs to continue. Maybe Loss: Prosthetic Training for the Emotions. That feels truer. The time where I explore what my prostheses are or what exercises I need – like how to make friends, how to become a more consistent writer, how to teach Qigong better, how to stop feeling lonely. Or maybe I don’t rename it and just start a new blog named Growth. That may be most appropriate.