Finding My Way
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.
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.