I admit I’m full of words. When my mama came to pick me up when her best friend was babysitting for awhile, she said, “You can’t have her yet, she’s telling me all kinds of things!”
More than once my mouth got me in trouble.
It’s still the source of most of my problems.
But for a time after Dominic left I found that the only words I could muster beyond what was absolutely necessary were written in my journal. Because the words I wanted to say were bitter and harsh and tasted bad as they came up my throat and threatened to roll off my tongue.
I’m sure retirement is an adjustment for everyone. One or both partners ending long-time work and coming home to unlimited hours of schedule-less days is HUGE.
For my husband and me it’s been perhaps even a bit more tricky.
The past eight years he’s worked out of town-WAY out of town-2000 miles from our little redneck hermit home in the woods of Alabama. So when he hauled his accumulated stuff across six states and showed up at the door it felt a little bit like an invasion.
I know, I know, my traditional friends are cringing that this Jesus-loving, (mostly!) submissive wife would say that aloud.
But let’s be honest.
I’ve been a stay-at-home wife/mother/educator for thirty-six years. These walls are my castle (such as it is) and this land is my kingdom. I’ve had to learn to do lots of things on my own because I was (pretty much) on my own. I couldn’t call hubby to come home and fix the drainpipe or chase off a fox or dog threatening the livestock.
Of course, our youngest son has always made himself available (since he lives close) but I try not to burden him too much with anything less than a true emergency.
Do the math.
Thirty-six years of marriage divided by eight years away. Yep. Nearly a full quarter of our years have been spent largely apart.
So there’s a little adjusting to do.
We’ve had some out and out fights (not going to sugar coat it ) but we’ve also had some beautiful moments when we look at one another and recognize afresh what drew us together in the first place.
Laughter has ALWAYS been the glue in our relationship.
And let me just tell you that the combination of aging minds, bodies and an aging house has provided plenty of hilarious moments.
We’ve searched for days looking for important documents only to find them barely hidden under some random sales ad on the kitchen table. We forget why we walk from one room to the next. We repeat the same question to one another at least two or three times a day and depending on how sassy we feel either answer again or question the other’s mental status.
Laughter lubricates life.
It makes otherwise frustrating and fear-inducing moments bearable.
Honesty is not inherently rude. Even when what’s spoken doesn’t sit well with the person listening to it.
It took awhile for me to figure that out on this journey.
Tone matters, facial expression matters, words matter. But I don’t have to stuff truth in service to the comfort of others.
I never ask anyone to adjust the thermostat in a car or at home unless I’m suffocating or shivering.
It’s a point of personal pride that I can tolerate a wider range of temperatures than most people.
And for awhile, I carried that same prideful disdain for “weaker folks” into my grief journey.
I was determined to endure whatever blows might come my way via comments, behavior, subtle and not-so-subtle attempts by others to circumscribe, dictate or otherwise influence my loss experience. I didn’t want to abandon pride in my own strength by admitting I wasn’t as strong as I wished I could be.
Then one day I realized that being honest was not the same as being rude. Telling the truth was not the same as acting selfishly.
When I wrote it, I was writing my personal feelings after a couple of years trying to fumble through holidays with friends and family. It was an honest expression of how hard it was and continues to be to navigate the stress-filled season of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
I’m not sure I’ve grown any more skillful in fitting all the pieces together-especially as our family grows and moves in different directions-but I continue striving to keep the lines of communication open and to try to acknowledge and accommodate everyone’s needs as best I can.
“I know it is hard. I know you don’t truly understand how I feel. You can’t. It wasn’t your child.
I know I may look and act like I’m “better”. I know that you would love for things to be like they were: BEFORE.But they aren’t.
I know my grief interferes with your plans. I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years. But I can’t help it. I didn’t ask for this to be my life.
I know that every year I seem to need something different. I know that’s confusing and may be frustrating. But I’m working this out as I go. I didn’t get a “how to” manual when I buried my son. It’s new for me every year too.“