Ten months in as of next week and change comes slowly. Little things need to be taken care of daily, shopping, eating, laundry, and then, suddenly I realize my car lease is up, ironically on the year anniversary of Gary’s death. I am proactive and start looking for my new car; something I have never navigated by myself, having a husband in the car business came in quite handy for the past 20 years. Now I am trying to remember all those things Gary negotiated for us, the warranties, the car lease terms, the car accessories and interest rates. I am navigating the unfamiliar and while people do this all the time, I have never done this alone and I want to make a good deal.
I made it through another holiday, the romantic one I’d been lucky enough to take for granted for the past 37 years. I always had a Valentine and plans for dinner; most of the time we cooked it together at home. We spent quiet evenings at home, but enjoyed the company. This year I realized it is a good thing to be a kindergarten teacher on Valentine’s Day because it comes with the guarantee of little cards, some chocolate and lots of handpicked flowers. This year, the year I wouldn’t come home to roses, my daughters thoughtfully ordered roses. My daughter coordinated with my dear friend, who kindly delivered the roses to school, and I was moved to tears by the sheer thoughtfulness and love the act represented.
I long for ritual. Every holiday is a pause in my path to acceptance, or at least acknowledgement, of my new life and after I’ve made it through the day, I exhale. The day after Valentine’s Day would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday. He died when he too young at 75. This past week was a double hit. After surviving the loss of romance, I woke up to the loss of the other man who had influenced my life.
This week I am tackling taxes, organizing my documents and doing my best to organize Gary’s tax documents. Cruelly I have to file joint tax returns for two years, reliving the past year and then next year, confronting the void of documents. We always worked as a team to assemble the paperwork, but truthfully, though I organized, Gary was the numbers guy. I am double checking everything.
People surround me, but many times, I am alone in this new life. Some days go by and everyone is involved in his or her own lives. I realize I have to find one, fill it up and think of myself, something a wife and mother rarely does. I am unaccustomed to putting myself first, but I have to learn to do this if I am going to survive. I am doing my best to stay in survival mode, dipping my toe into new things, dinner with new friends, figuring out how to negotiate a car purchase, and organizing my tax documents.
A Valentine chocolate came with this quote and I saved it, rereading it, and gathering faith. I am looking for the faith in the best outcome, the faith in the relationships I cherish, the faith in the possibility of a future.