Finding My Way

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Finding My Way

/ Post by Codi Lindsey

by Julie Gentz

It is only three days away from a new year: 365 days of new adventures, new possibilities, new hurts, and new hopes. This morning I got up and thought, “I’ll just take a quick look at my Facebook page.” (LOL . . . this never turns out to be anything even remotely close to “quick”!) The very first thing I saw was a post from one of the many wonderful friends I have made through sites I belong to for widows and widowers. She posted a picture of a very happy looking couple and said that she had “met a widower who had traversed the same grief journey” as herself, and they had “somehow emerged through the fog of grief and found the sunshine of each other.” That her “life has joy, meaning, and happiness again.” After reading it, I just sat there for a minute, looking at her post and rolling her words around in my head. I’ve had a series of events in my life recently that have not left me much time for writing down my thoughts (as you may have noticed by the infrequency of posts on this blog.) The result of these events has been to truly deplete the meager accumulation of “currency” that I’ve been able to restore to my “Emotional Bank Account of Life.” And here was this post, the first words that I read when I got up, speaking to me as if it were written solely for my view. I want to share with you what I wrote in reply to her, and what turned out to be my journal entry for the day.

Brian will have been gone 20 months on New Year's Day, and I am slowly finding my way out of the fog as well. At times I still get lost, but each time that happens, I am finding it easier and easier to get back onto the narrow, winding path grief has laid out for me, and to continue my journey forward. I still get pebbles in my shoes sometimes, but I've learned to stop and dump them out before going on. I'm encouraged that each time this happens, the pebbles seem to be getting smaller and smaller, and there are fewer of them I need to dump out. I've learned the wisdom of being aware of, and OK with, the fact that, while the pebbles will continue to diminish in size and volume, they will never completely disappear. I know that for the rest of my life I will need to walk with some sand in my shoes, a small, yet ever present reminder of the pathway of grief that I have walked, and that has forever altered the trajectory of my life. I have learned to take "timeouts" when things seem overwhelming and I grow too weary to walk,(which sometimes seems like a lot). Remembering this, I smile and think of how Brian liked to call these vital life pauses, "taking a recess." I've learned that this stopping, taking deep breaths, and reassessing my progress is not a delay in my forward movement, but, instead, an important part of processing the journey. I've become better acquainted with who I am now, and it's becoming easier and less painful to accept the "new me", and to reconcile the differences between my new self and who I was before.

The path I see ahead of me now is by no means a perfectly straight one. I know that there are still plenty of potholes to watch out for, steep hills to climb, deep valleys to walk carefully through, and many unexpected twists and turns still ahead of me. But I have learned that trusting my journey and letting go of the need to control it is easier as each grief anniversary comes and goes. And, while it's true that life -- and myself -- will never be the same as before Brian died, I can, and will, find my place in the world for the next leg of this unexplainable, often surprising, wonderful journey called Life. I know that not only will I survive the unimaginable loss I have been dealing with, but I will go on and live life again, taking grief's hand, accepting it for what it is, learning from it, and walking alongside my new friend grief, rather than attempting to evade it. And, in doing all of this, I will, in the end, understand the answer to the question the Stick Horse gives when the Velveteen Rabbit's ask him, "How do you become Real?" The Horse replies:

"You don't become it. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

As I prepare myself to walk boldly into 2023 in a few days, ready to accept whatever life has in store for me, I'm finding that I just may have a little less hair than before this journey began, and I seem to be feeling a bit shabby, but that is Ok, because I certainly am feeling a lot more Real. . . and in the end, that's all that really matters anyway.

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