Memorial Day

Memorial Day. A Federal holiday to honor and commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Most holidays since 1 December have found me pensive; morose. But today and yesterday are two of the most productive days I’ve had in recent memory – in at least a couple of years! My mood has been mostly great, and my motivation to get things done has been very high. It feels good!

I am sunburnt to a crisp, though. Saturday found us in Frankenmuth for a meeting of a widow/ers group we belong to on facebeook – there, we were to revel at the sight of hot air balloons, planning to take a “tethered” balloon ride. Alas, the weather was cool and I, at least, did not equate the outing with sunburn due to the coolness. As we all know: UV cares not one whit about the air temperature. At least there was a dog festival of sorts – dock jumping, agility, K9, and herding demonstrations going on at the same time to provide some entertainment. So many dogs on-site with no issues! I was amazed!

The outing was a lot of fun, and it was good to put real, animated faces on some of the names I’d been interacting with for the past few months. Unfortunately, the wind was too high for the balloons, and we had left before they started their “test firing” of the balloons at around 9:00 pm for an attempt to fly them on Sunday. The pictures sent by a couple from our group were stunning, though!

We had a great time talking with fellow facebook group members, and then going off on our own to explore the town.

On seeing other women

So, I took another gargantuan step yesterday: I went out with a young lady who was a couple of years behind me in high school, and whose husband passed a couple of years before Kim. We had planned for coffee, but, due to various reasons, it got later and later in the day before we could meet, so we ended up not really having a plan. We simply went for a drive until we spotted somewhere interesting, which ended up being a brewpub built into an old church in Saline. We ordered a “flight” of beer samples I thought she might enjoy – a Koelsch, a Saison, and several Belgians – and an appetizer, and we talked some more. We talked of people we knew or know; our careers, our families, our marriages, and our losses.

It was easy to use my “happy face” technique in interacting with her because, frankly, I enjoyed talking to her so much, it came naturally. We have a lot in common – some of those things scarily similar – which gave us common ground for conversation. There are a lot of differences, too, though, which is to be expected between two people who came to where we are via very different paths.

This outing was a bit double-edged, emotionally. Though it was thrilling to be interacting in this way with an adult female who was not a member of my family, doing so surfaced a lot of insecurities that I think come from having been singularly committed for so long. Chief among them: “Am I boring her to death?” Oddly, I felt none of the guilt that some widowers speak of when they first venture out of their now-vacant marriage bubble – likely another thing that varies by person.

And, you know what? If our relationship never grows beyond today – basically online “pen pals” – I’m ok with that! I think this is a facet of the maturity that comes from a life such as the one I’ve been living. The need for acceptance is still there, but it is not the overarching demand that it was as a young man. And if it does grow into more? I’m ok with that, too.

I guess, the point I’m trying to make is that it is ok to want to continue living. It is ok to meet other people. It is ok to seek companionship. Your deceased spouse would not want you to be depressed and miserable for your remaining life, locked into a never-ending cycle of grief.

Don’t think of it as “moving on”, because you can no more move on from who you are as you can go back in time and change the events that made you who you are. Your spouse will ALWAYS be a huge component of what makes you who you are today. Instead, consider it continuing the story your life has been writing since the day you were born. And each and every day: a new chapter awaits. Turn the page…

Conversations

Today started with a surprise! I went to my usual 8:30 mass this morning, and as they announced the mass intentions, the lector intoned “Kimberley Babcock!” Though we did not get involved in St. Thomas a’Becket as we had at St. Dunstan, we have some very good friends there. Good enough to remember Kim and ask that masses be said for her.

After mass, I drove to the cemetery as is my Sunday routine. The rotten deer or the wind had, again, tipped her grave blanket over, so I righted it, cleaned it off, and modified it to make it a little more resistant to tipping (we engineers are a determined lot…).

And then I had a very frank, one-sided conversation with her about something that had changed in my life. More on that tomorrow.

They say that routine is good; that it helps keep depression at bay to have a schedule of tasks. The tasks do not need to be all “work,” either. Plan fun things for yourself, too. But develop a routine. It does help.