Monday, November 10, 2014

On Growth & Getting On

Dear John,
 
Feast your eyes on SoluMedrol . . .
Home again today, with the encouragement of management to not worry about it and take care of myself, and all due expressions of sympathy. (Have I mentioned that I love this job?) I'm gong to see Barb again tomorrow. I think I'm due for IV steroids. The original infection seems to be clearing up nicely. But, as is usual with me, the lingering airway inflammation is the problem. When I used to get severe infections like this, they learned that I would not clear up without IV steroids. I predict SoluMedrol in my future.
 
So I didn't go to work today. I was awake until 6:00 this morning, partly dealing with prednisone and partly trying to breathe. I talked to Jen on the phone for a while this evening, and was exhausted and short of breath after ten minutes. Even she could hear it. So I knitted all day - imagine that - and did manage to get two small loads of laundry done. I was almost out of undies.
 
I was thinking tonight about the people who have told my widowfriends and me that we need to "get on with our lives." I've never heard an actual widow say anything of the sort. But it's a common directive from the muggles. Now I'm wondering who and/or what is doing the actual getting on. I haven't gotten on with anything, but my life has certainly gone on, and it's dragging me along with it. It's the world that gets on with life. We follow out of necessity, not choice. No matter how convinced you are that the cosmos must grind to an immediate halt at the moment of death, the cosmos refuses to cooperate. Life goes on. The sun comes up and goes down, seasons changes, the dreaded holidays appear, couples fall in love and marry, children are born, and  other people die.
 
We do eventually catch up to the idea that we and our lives are inexorably changing. We cannot dig in our heels and halt the passage of time. I am older than when you last saw me, thinner, with longer hair. There are three cats who sleep in your bed, new drapes over your couch, new sheets on the bed, new towels in your bathroom. Your wife is a bank teller now. And I'm more independent that you ever knew me - I handle everything around here by myself now. I have people I can consult when I'm in a quandary, but I'm the sole owner and maintainer of house, land, car, investments, insurance. That has changed me.
 
At first I saw myself as shrunken by your death, reduced to less than a whole person. Now I'm realizing that I have grown more than I've shrunk. I've expanded to fill the gap you left behind. I'm learning a completely new career in my late 50s. I'm meeting new people and making new friends. I'm carrying new responsibilities and commitments. I am completely responsible for myself and my life now. There is much growth there.
 
And I've grown in ways of the heart, too. It is true that suffering makes you kinder and more compassionate, and I relate to other people differently. I'm much gentler now, more understanding, better able to relate to the pain of others. I'm more tenderhearted than I was. I'm much more patient than I've ever been - that one amazes me. And I know I've brought this up before, but I don't stress and worry like I used to. When the worst thing that can ever happen to you has happened, your perspective is forever altered. Not much gets you worked up.
 
But the biggest change in me is one of the soul. I used to have a survival instinct.  Now I can't imagine what I was thinking. If you're a Christian, why on earth would you ever want to survive? Heaven awaits - why shillyshally? It's not that I particularly want to die; it's more that I don't especially care if I live any longer. I'm easy - whatever is fine with me. I don't feel the attachment to this life that I did before. Living no longer seems to be the greatest good. I'm quite ready to lay it down happily when the time comes. There is no attachment anymore.
 
Well, that's a long dissertation on getting on, isn't it? I'm better end here - my appointment with Barb is early so I'll be up at 6:30. I hope to sleep tonight - you might pray about that if you don't mind. And any of my scrambled and muddled thought that strike you as cause for concern! I'll report in tomorrow about the appointment.
 
Your fuddled, muddled wife,
Joan.

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