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. (Those details are here.)

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 Little routines that he and I had are no longer applicable; some small items – ornaments, kitchen utensils –  that formed aspects of our home life have no great significance any more.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.