“What have you of life’s beautiful things? A rainbow’s shimmering hues when the shower has ended? A warm brown puppy in the sunlight? A mockingbird singing while a thin veil of clouds is drawn like misty curtains across the full moon; a playhouse where string stretches from tree to tree and shuts out all invaders; children’s laughter and the fluttering of wings in the birdbath? A breath of cool air; a drink of water; velvet sleep; and evening walks; a good book; and a feeling of well being?” Don’t forget such delightful things, especially if/when you lose some one you love so very much! I gave myself this year to focus on the mourning process at times, and to change up my house, put some of Tom away so I could see “me” and find my way forward. Where I could learn where to put sadness so that losing Thomas was not such an overwhelming thing. It turns out as I had suspected that you can hold a place in your heart, and do set aside a time that you can feel this sadness, for just a while and then move into the day. I took up pen palling so I could have good conversation when I was ready for it. I could think on how I wanted to respond. I met other single woman who share their thoughts about what they experienced. I encourage them by sharing what has helped me. I am reaching out rather than being happy with just me, it used to be Tom and I. I do have my grandson here at this time. He is like having Tom in a number of ways. His presence helps. His Mom is a nurse, and he has Type 1 Diabetes, I am home as that is where I work so it is safer for Alex to be here. There is someone else to cook for and do things for, as well as the cat! He was not mine__don’t think I could easily part with him now. He is such a character!
I ask. “What have you of life’s beautiful things?” As for me? I have always loved the beauty I find in others. I still have memories, memories of Tom’s sweet soft kiss on my lips. This experience was one of fireworks! Real one’s where we would get zapped and there would be loud snapping! We would always laugh as we rubbed our lips after. I remember the way he touched me and watched me. The first time he said he loved me. “I love who you are.” He said. And then kissed me so softly. I miss his hugs, our snuggling together, being cradled all night in his arms. The moving away when the warmth of the embrace got too much and then when moving back into that safe place; rewarded with kisses on my cheek and sometimes more. I remember___I remember how he listened to me and so I always felt heard. I know all the subjects that had touched off so many of our conversations. We had to make ourselves stop our conversation because it was 3 in the morning! We would go to bed to find sleep, as long as we did not continue the conversation there. It took effort and so we would laugh about it. So many things brought love and laughter into our life. Having this was having unmeasurable beauty. Thomas was a beautiful person. He was like living with all the Winnie The Pooh Characters due to his ADHD. I gave him balance as Christopher Robin. I learned a lot from Thomas about what it is to be human. The support and help he gave was with my art and writing, photography and print-making was highly valued. What I worked on inspired his interests. He showed great empathy and sympathy when I felt hurt by others. I just needed someone to hear. Tom’s compassion was beautiful too! He collected friends. One of my favorite group of men who he embraced was the men in his Jazz Group. We both loved Jazz and fell into it about the same time. He did a radio program for a while then returned to his art degree and that is where we met. I was guarding a professors art work from being damaged; all dressed up and in crutches from being in dance as my performance art. I tore the ligament going up the calf of my left leg. Thank goodness! So I could drive my car! Then we met again in our print-making classes over the next three years. We became very good friends during that time.
Without my listening skills Thomas could get stuck in his strong feelings due to the ADHD. If something felt unjust or he was hurt by something he could be off to the races with angry thoughts; be caught up in the stacking up of pros and cons. That little voice would lead him places if he did not have someone to listen and interject ideas for him to chew on and soften or change his thinking. He always had to come to terms with things in his own time. Then he was ok again. We made a good team.
The trips we took together, dancing, me flirting with him. He made me more extroverted__ I was not someone who had ever flirted, but something about Thomas___he was such an innocent man. Shocked if a women thought he was being inappropriate. Because he was the forever gentleman___I would flirt to make him turn red. I called him silly names like stud muffin, honey buns, cupcake___. It was because that was the last thing he would ever do himself! But he responded to my flirting as he came up with names for me too! I was doll face! Sweetie pie___sweet cheeks. He would tell me I was beautiful or cute.
Everything that you experience as a couple stops when your partner dies, and you find yourself suddenly single. There is a sense of loneliness___which I don’t over think. In time this loneliness made me think about loving someone again. This is not being disloyal, we are social beings. However, the mind wants to argue with this idea. It doesn’t tell me sensibly that its not time. I don’t need to overthink what dating means at 66. What I do I need is time to be me in. I think what ever kind of relationship a new relationship might be, I don’t want marriage. I think I would want someone unlike Thomas. I would be interested in someone who had different interests, perhaps an artist? No someone who would get my being the artist and writer. I would want someone who saw life as an adventure.
I figure pay attention to myself, make changes, do new things, and so I am. I do not want to fall into some mode until the day I die. I do think I will move to be closer to my older daughter there are some opportunities near her as well. I think going for a MFA in Writing is the ticket for the near future before I make that move.
Not everything is done with a partner when you are in a relationship. Life is more than our partners. It’s family and friends. It involves being Grammy. And oh I am Grammy and Great Grammy now! Now I am a G.G. Perhaps you the reader are a Grampy and father instead? No matter who we are a son, daughter, wife or husband, brother, sister___. The other parts of life continue thank goodness! Even if it feels clunky and abstracted for awhile. We still exist. Life is full of bits and pieces, and reason to know, to feel happiness. We don’t have to stick to being sad, hurt nor alone.
I write not because I have the mourning process sewed up somehow. Far from it. What I have feels like balance. Perhaps due to my education and being a caregiver prior to Thomas. It has a lot to do with who I am as well. It has to do with all the things Thomas and I talked about and our relationship. Life with Tom was such a gift.
I am learning my way forward. It will be one year the 28th of September. I hope sharing my experience can help someone else.
Thomas and I were happy as bugs in a rug, content being us when we were alone. This means I have to move out of my comfort zone and be different, out going, change. It means that I can not be in the studio or writing only not if I am to experience the world at large.
Tom’s illness was Advance Pulmonary Fibrosis and a heart where a value had been put in he had been born with three valves. He was a excellent swimmer, skier, a hiker and leader of hikes, hockey player? I did not know him then. The muscles on his legs were proof of his abilities. I watched as the tone of those muscles shrank___ I watched his decline, his struggle to breath. He hated the oxygen. He did not say it but I feel he knew the end was coming to be put on oxygen. He did not show the fears he may have had for my sake. We did not talk about his dying. I am grateful he did not end up in the hospital but died here at home.