Today, I received a text from a beloved, snarky friend who made me laugh. It read “While you’re sitting around bingeing, cuddling your pets and worrying about your bras, can you get a group text going for tonight?”
Now, I don’t mind throwing her under the bus here, because I have like 10 coming to me after the epic throwdown she gave me about eight years ago at work … that I still laugh about.
But it might get you wondering: What does Laura do all day now that she is not working?
It’s true. I’ve binged a lot of shows. Mostly British crime drama, yes, but I’m through six seasons of American Horror Story as well. I can tell you I have never appreciated Jessica Lange for the treasure that she is until hearing her sing “Life on Mars” in the Freaks episode. That woman is a goddess.
I also spend an enormous time cuddling my pets, but we all know that’s part of every major therapy. I only worry about my bras when they haven’t been handwashed.
What do I do?
I work on healing. I can tell you, despite my love for what I did at FVS and the enormous respect I have for the teachers, leaving was the best thing I’ve done. I could no longer grieve there.
So I grieved at home … on the couch, in the woods, on the trails, in bed, in front of the TV, at bars, at coffee shops, at friends’ houses, in Los Angeles. I grieved with everyone. I grieved when I was smiling and laughing as well as when I was crying. You don’t see the tears much anymore. They mostly come at night. My sleep schedule is still erratic, and the last thoughts are always of Adam in the hospital. Of his last breath, of the things I could have done better.
Does this surprise you? That after 14 months I’m still dealing with that? It won’t surprise my widows and widowers out there… the ones I’ve met and the ones I adore in an online community. In a recent New York Times article, a woman who lost her child wrote “You never ‘get over it,’ you ‘get on with it,’ and you never ‘move on,’ but you ‘move forward.’”
And that’s what I’ve been doing these last four months: Getting on with it.
It could be the best description ever. You make your choice to live, and you get on with it.
I got on with it by resigning from my job. I got on with it by beginning an exhaustive process of diving deep into the house, the possessions, the memories. Friends will come into the house and might think “it looks no different.” Same wine red disintegrating couch we got from Deb at FVS. Same hodgepodge of decorations.
It’s in the nooks and crannies that the changed has occurred. It’s in the bedroom where I have not just moved some of Adam’s stuff out, but have taken the step of moving my stuff in. It took time to put my clothes in his dresser, as if the emptiness of it was waiting to return. What happens if he comes back and needs drawer space?
I’ve donated thousands of dollars worth of items .. his, mine, ours. I took that Swedish death cleaning approach to my mom’s to help give away the last of Dad’s clothes.
I discovered new hiking trails with Christie. I continued to wrestle with Adam’s computer and files. I scrapbooked hundreds of photos. I found pictures of us where I don’t even remember where we were at. I marveled at pics of Adam when he loved another gal so many years ago… and I scrapbooked those as well, because it was part of who he was.
I tried food I never would have tried. I watched every episode of the Great British Baking Show and found no desire to bake. I followed my nieces and their successes online. I finally moved all my money to one place and have someone guiding me. I lost some weight, gained it back, lost it, gained it and now just miss Adam, who loved me whether I gained it or it lost it, because it wasn’t the weight, it was the way we treated each other and the way we loved.
In January now, I’m taking the steps to re-enter the workforce. Am I done grieving? Hell to the no. I won’t ever be. But I have a better grasp on it than before, a greater compassion for those around me.
I miss my best friend a lot. Every day, every decision I make is because he lived.
I am lucky. I had the ability to take time off from work on my own terms. Other widows aren’t so lucky. They have been fired, they have had to slog through thankless jobs without more than a few days of bereavement.
I’ll end this by saying… We need to do better for our widows and widowers in America. We need to prepare each other from the beginning and stop pretending one spouse isn’t going to die before the other. Women, especially, have to learn to be resilient now while they are still in their marriages. Resiliency starts when you don’t need it yet. Build it.
“It’s chaos. Be kind.” – Michelle McNamara
One thought on “Is There Life on Mars?”
I don’t think grief has a timeline and I agree, you never get over it, you get through it. Having a loved one die is not a 5 step process! You must re-visit depths of grief when it calls for you to do so. Death changes us. Changes the people we are. It is something we will always have now. I think you are a very brave and strong woman. ~Kim