Monday, March 21, 2016

No 'happy ending' but a moving on

It's three and a half years later. Not only my man, but also both our cats have died, that we used to call 'the children'. First Freya went, almost exactly two years after he did, from a fairly slow-growing breast cancer, at age 16.  Levi and I had a very intense bonding after that, being the two survivors; then 11 months after her, he suddenly took sick and died, aged 17. 

It's seven and a half months since he left, 18 months since she did. I find I am at different stages of grief with each, according to how long they've been gone. For Levi, the anguish is still quite fresh. With Freya, I am already becoming more gently reminiscent. 

I didn't think I would get another cat, but a dear friend's daughter found that her lifestyle wasn't conducive to looking after a cat properly and wanted to pass hers on after only six months. My friend isn't allowed pets where she lives, and I didn't want to see a beautiful creature in want of a home. So Selene came to live with me two months ago: an 8-year-old with abandonment issues and an early history of abuse. 

After a tricky beginning, we have settled down well with each other. I'm glad to have her, and have learned already that each love is distinct. My grief for her predecessors and my quick affection for her are quite separate matters.

But her presence in my life and home does emphasise the fact that the life I shared with Andrew is gone. Past. Over. 

I notice it in other small ways too. Little routines that he and I had are no longer applicable; some small items – ornaments, kitchen utensils –  that formed aspects of our home life have no great significance any more. Selene, as I say, just makes it more noticeable that the old is finished and I am in a new phase.

If this were a romance novel, it would need the standard happy ending in which I would find a nice new man. It is not and I haven't. I'm not looking. I remember my Mum saying, after my stepfather died and people thought it would be nice for her to find someone, 'He'd have to have every hair hung with diamonds and three feet in the grave.' Now I understand.

Various psychics said, soon after I was widowed, that there would be someone else for me – a companionship thing. Even a reading I did for myself, just about life in general, suddenly suggested it. And various possibilities have appeared, but never came to anything. To be fair, the men showed no great signs of interest. I couldn't summon up any enthusiasm either. 

I suspect that – as a wise friend suggested – I have subconsciously prevented a new partner from manifesting. On an energetic level, I’ve pushed them away. So be it.  

When I stop to think about it now, I realise I have no great hankering to look after some other old man. The one I had was my love and I was only too willing, but he was already my surprise late-in-life love. (I was in my mid-fifties when we met, and he a decade older.) I need no other. It's not as if I have missed out on love in my life, far from it; I've had a rich love life encompassing all the kinds of love any one person could hope for, and far more than most ever get. I can afford to be alone with me now. 

It is Selene who now sleeps on the pillow on the other side of the bed.

As time has gone on, I have realised that I've adjusted well to my own company. I've got a number of excellent women friends to socialise with when I feel like it, plenty of absorbing interests to keep me occupied at other times, and now a small feline to love and care for. She is fairly self-contained and undemanding, which is even better, yet affectionate enough to suit us both. 

It becomes apparent that I can cope all right on my own, both in practical and emotional ways – by the simple fact that I've been doing so for the last three and a half years. I can run my life just fine, I note with mild surprise. 

I think about my dear husband a lot. I'm sure I always will. I never cease to be deeply thankful that he came into my life. The memories are my treasures. Those loving years are enough to sustain me for all the time I have left, even if that proves to be long. I am blessed.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

So Many Pillows on the Bed

I had settled down into what I thought of as a monastic look. It wasn't quite that austere really, as I had both a tri-pillow and a pyramid pillow for sitting up in bed, but both had plain, pale pillow-cases and were neatly over my side of the bed. The other side had an absence of pillows, just an old towel for the nights when my cat might deign to sleep with me. Although queen size, this bed was clearly occupied by a single person only.

(The photo only shows my side of the bed, though you can also see the near end of the striped towel.)

I noticed my pyramid pillowcase looking thin and worn — not surprising after 30 years! I couldn't buy any in the local shops but found them online. They were expensive, and meanwhile I noticed the pillow itself was getting uncomfortable. I discovered it had become riddled with mould! So out went pillow and pillowcase into the rubbish.

At that point, a friend offered me back some big cushions I'd once passed on to her. I knew they would match my doona cover, and thought I could put both on the bed for decoration. I could then use one to prop myself up in place of the pyramid pillow. Friend pointed put that the covers were thick and tough, not soft for leaning on, and mentioned that the foam cushions inside were falling apart, held together only by the covers. I found that the cushions were indeed not very comfortable, but thought that must be due to the lumpy insides.

Idea! I dashed off to buy two of those big, square Euro pillows, meaning to use them inside the cushion covers. I bought pillowcases for them too in case they didn't fit in the covers, knowing I could return those if necessary. I wasn't thrilled with the colour choice, but hastily settled for a sort of dark beige as the least ugly.

The cushions were also quite old. When I unzipped one to take out the innards, the zip broke beyond repair and the innards tore apart in several places. I noticed that the cushion cover was not wearing very well. It wasn't worth replacing the zip. That lot went into the rubbish too.

That left me with two new Euro pillows and one cushion for decoration. I wasn't game to try dismantling that cushion! And anyway I realised by then that my friend was right: the pillows were nicer to lean on as they were. Unfortunately I'd taken both pillows, and the pillowcases, out of their packaging before I bethought me that (a) I didn't really need more than one and (b) navy would have been a better colour choice. Ah well.

I couldn't cram all these pillows and cushions over to one side of the bed. Even when I spread them out, it all looked lopsided — until I fished out 'his' old tri-pillow to put behind the Euro pillow on that side of the bed, after putting an ordinary pillow underneath it first. So I now have two full sets of pillows for lying and sitting, plus a cushion in front to pull it all together — and of course my toy tigger on top.

I realise the beige pillowcases will look good with my summer bedspreads, whereas I do need to get navy ones for winter to go with the doona cover. His tri-pillow always had navy pillowcases, whereas my larger one had off-white. (These items we brought separately, from previous households, when we began living together.) I might be so radical, after all this time, as to buy navy ones too for 'mine' and beige or white for 'his', so everything can be matched in every season.

Suddenly, precipitately, I have spent money I couldn't best spare to acquire things I didn't really need, and am looking to spend even more. Too late, I realise I could have nested the smaller tri-pillow in front of the larger one for sitting up in bed, and could have used the two cushions merely for decoration (if I hadn't gone and wrecked one of them by now).

However, the Euro pillows ARE much more comfortable than any other option, so what the heck. (Though, of course, I would have been fine with only one.)

What fascinates me is that I made all these hasty, ill-considered decisions, in a bee-in-the-bonnet kind of way, and ended up with a bed that looks as if it's ready for two people.

Two people will be using it in August, when friends who are a couple come to house-and-cat-sit while I'm away visiting family. But I didn't, of course, do all this for them. Bed pillows plus tri-pillows each would have been perfectly fine — for them as for me.

Perhaps it's a reflection of the shift I've recently experienced. Yet it's a bit odd. I no sooner get really comfortable with being self-sufficient than — in an apparently thoughtless, albeit driven way — I create something decidedly un-monastic!

What are you trying to tell me, Subconscious? (And if it's what I think it is, aren't you jumping the gun?)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It Seems I've Turned a Corner

Mind you, I've thought that before. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I've completed another stage.

But something's shifted. I've moved more fully into acceptance, even embracing, of being alone. I like my life and my lifestyle. I like my home, and somehow I seem to fill it now without any need for company — other than my dear old black cat, who has adapted too. We are very content with each other, and have evolved new routines that suit our new circumstances.

I have a nice balance between my lovely, solitary, introverted activities at home — reading and writing, mostly — and socialising with my friends outside the home (and sometimes in it, too).

It's also nice that I live in a small town, where I've been for 20-odd years, so it's hard to walk down the street without seeing at least one or two people I know. That might involve a chat, a hug, or just a smile in passing. Whatever, it sure doesn't let one feel isolated or unloved! And walking into some shops and caf├ęs, similarly, means encountering people I know as friends.

I have no family here, and sometimes think that when I am older, perhaps I should move closer to them. But while I'm still able to be independent, this is a good place for me.

I was quite sick recently, for  a number of weeks, first with shingles then flu as well. I had to miss the market which augments my income — after missing several previous ones for other reasons. I asked my medical intuitive friend (who facetiously calls himself Da Wizard) if the Universe was sending me a message about not doing the markets any more.

He thought about it, then said, 'No, it doesn't seem to be permanent; but you need a rest right now. There's some more development ahead for you, more gifts to come in — but you're not quite ready yet. You haven't got over wanting Andrew to still be with you.'

I knew that last bit was true.  Da Wizard advised me to resume meditating — which had lapsed almost unnoticed, as these good habits tend to do — so as to help myself progress faster.

So I did, and I rested, and I gradually got well. And then I noticed that the shift had happened.

I still think of Andrew, still talk to him, am still thankful every day that we married each other and had as long together as we did, and such a great life together ... but I'm OK now with my life being as it is now. I feel not only self-reliant but quite happy. Somehow life did go on, as we are always told it will, and has become enjoyable in its own right.

I am where I wanted to be, and aimed to be, after he died — thoroughly enjoying my own company.

(I still feel a teeny bit disloyal, even while knowing that's irrational, and that he wouldn't want me to ... but not very much.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Changing Focus and (Almost) Moving On

I seem to be done with processing the traumas of his final months — at last. Been doing it for three and a half years!

I am still having lots of memories of our time together, but now it is of the previous 19 years, and the many experiences it makes me happy to recall. Even things that weren't especially happy in themselves are happy memories now, because we really did have a good life together and enjoyed it.

This too is processing, in that I find myself going over and over these memories now, just as I did with the traumatic ones. Well, whatever's necessary, I guess. One day it may all settle down to just random happy memories, and then I suppose I'll be ready to really move on.