Saturday, July 27, 2013

How Can Beauty Still Matter Now?

(Doing it for myself)

My face is looking old. I observe this in photos more than in mirrors. 

I tell myself, 'You can let yourself get old now. He's not here to see.'

Perhaps he would have continued to see me as beautiful, as he always did. But I still would have worried about turning old and ugly in his eyes as well as my own ... even though he still looked beautiful to me, no matter how aged he also looked. 

Now, though, if I turn into a wizened old crone — as I suppose I must — who cares?

However, I still put on my make-up (albeit minimal) when I'm going out. I still dress nicely, and take an interest in my clothes. It's not just for the sake of keeping up appearances — I'm far too nonconformist for that — so it must be for me. I realise it must always have been for me, even when I hoped it would please him too.

It's the same with things in my home. (How readily now I say 'my' instead of 'our'.) Today, when changing the sheets, I started thinking about the way I always tried to match blankets to sheets and quilts. Now I feel less inclined, although I still do it. It struck me that this had been a foolish practice all those years, as he didn't seem to notice such things anyway. 

But then I remembered when Bill (previous husband) and I bought our first house, and lived in it some months with horribly garish walls until we could afford to repaint. Only after we had done that did we realise the source of the stress, poor sleep and irritability we had been experiencing. One's environment really does matter, even if it seems to be just a background. It's subliminal, and it does have an effect. 

So it was important for Andrew that I did those little things to make our home aesthetically pleasing. It was important that I did them for both of us, and it's still important that I do them for me.

As for the face, perhaps I can't do much about that. Age will happen! But I can still enjoy colour, texture and style along with comfort. I can still adorn myself with my bold, exotic jewellery which gives my own eyes pleasure. (And perhaps, wherever he is, he smiles to see.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Must Have Been Quiet Enough to Hear Him

Had a bit of a weepy time today — though sort of in a good way, realising how much he taught me.
At the computer tonight, pausing to ponder something, my mind quiet and open, I heard, as from a long way off, him calling my name, 'Rosemary', as if to get my attention. When I listened, he called again: 'I love you.'
It was always his way of reassuring me, his ultimate, when-the-chips-are-down message, and he always meant it.

I took a moment to digest it, then I said out loud, 'I love you too.'


Except for some family heirloom type bequests to his offspring, he left everything to me. I still find it hard to think of some things as mine rather than his, e.g. his iMac. 

However I am glad to have them. 

I decided not to sell the iMac. It has a great screen for watching any TV shows which I happen to miss on TV; also I like to play my music on it, rather than the laptop, which I work on. 

I took his files off it, transferring them to the laptop, because I did at first think of selling it. That was easy. Removing him as a user/admin was harder — not difficult to execute but difficult emotionally: so final. 

There are various things like that, which I have to remind myself that he no longer needs. Some were his, some were ours; it's hard to think of them as simply 'mine'.

But, had it been the other way about, apart from a few family bequests of my own I would have left him everything of mine. In fact, I did. We both made wills at the same time. I need to make a new one now.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stages of Grief: Depression, then Acceptance

As I said in my last — and excuse me for getting a bit repetitive here — I didn't recognise depression when it arrived recently. I don't think I've ever experienced it before. (Lucky me. I know people who suffer from it frequently, and 'suffer' is the word.) I was calling it things like 'emptiness' and 'pointlessness'. Eventually it occurred to me that there was a pattern happening, so I looked up the 'Stages of Grief'. Oh. Depression. Yes, that description fitted. 

'It can't be very serious,' I thought. 'I haven't been having suicidal thoughts ... oh, hang on, yes I have.' I was so deadened that I didn't experience those thoughts as dramatic, so I wasn't paying them any attention. 

'What if they're insidious?' I asked myself. So I decided I'd better see the psychologist Andrew and I used to go to.

Then, just when I'd arrived at those realisations, the next stage came along. I had some strange understandings — I might even call them epiphanies — one after the other. 

The first one came to me as, 'I'm where I've always been headed.' 

Andrew and I always knew that, barring accidents, he'd go first. He was nearly 11 years older than me, and he had quite serious health issues, albeit well controlled most of the time. 

And it came to me that I had been waiting all my life for time to myself. Well, this is not quite true. In the brief period between my first and second marriages, I was hellishly lonely. Nevertheless, I am — fortunately, in present circumstances — essentially an introvert and have usually enjoyed my own company. In fact, in the past I often craved solitude. I experienced it as a need.

If ever Andrew was away for a few days, which sometimes happened, I loved it. It's the permanence of his absence and the lack of choice in the matter that has made it so hard to bear now. That and the fact that I have been releasing much grief which was, of necessity, bottled up over the last months — even years — of his life. 

Before his final hospitalisation, knowing the end was inevitable, but not how long it would be in coming, I prayed that he would have as long as he needed and that his quality of life would remain sufficient during that time — but I also prayed that it would be soon enough for me to make a life for myself afterwards. 

I was very clear, however, both before and after his death, that the said new life would not include a new partner. I wanted time with me.

All these factors added up to the conclusion that this single, solitary life is exactly where I was always headed. Another way of putting it, I decided, is that I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.

I was settling into that realisation when I had another. I'd been slightly pissed off for some time that, although I kinda knew Andrew was still available, I hadn't experienced his presence very much. Then, suddenly, I had a vision of him up in the blue sky (where we always mentally locate heaven) happy and joyous, dancing. It hit me that instead of him coming down here to be with me in my gloom, I should be going up there to join him in his joy — not by dying, but raising my vibration, putting my consciousness there. And indeed, I can do that. I've had years of training.

All that created a big shift, emotionally. I'm not doing anything different, but I feel different. It dawns on me that I've arrived at acceptance. And here I appear to be staying.  

It is punctuated by moments of intense grief and tears, still, which can be triggered by all sorts of memories. And I have it on the good authority of widowed friends that the stages of grief don't go through a nice, neat, linear progression and then finally stop. Oh no, they can get all mixed up together, as I've already experienced; and then, after you've been through them all, they can return without warning, any old time, for years to come. Oh well. The present position is still a big improvement on what went before.

I kept the appointment with the psychologist. 'I've just reached acceptance,' I told her, 'And at this point I come to you.' She said she thought it was probably a good idea, with the anniversary of his death starting to loom close. Then I wept for an hour, telling her the whole story. 

'Each time you tell it,' she said, 'Or part of it, it becomes ...'  Well, I can't remember what she said it becomes, but something useful. Integrated, perhaps.

She thinks I've reached this point quite quickly, and that it must be due to all the ongoing support I've had from friends on and offline. I couldn't agree more! You've all been amazing. Being responsible for two cats has helped too, and so has the writing.

People have started telling me, in some surprise, how well I'm looking. And I feel well! It feels as if I'm no longer just marking time while being without Andrew, but that I am living my life again.