Today it's been three years. Sometimes it seems like three days, sometimes like three centuries. Three years today. So it's time for me to evaluate myself, how I am, and where I am. And it's all quite unexpected.
I am amazed to have recently discovered that I am happy. I thought I would never be happy again, but here I am. I don't love you any less. But I have moved beyond being content and can honestly say that I am happy. Who would have though it?
I remember a few years after Curly died, when Donna told me that being a widow gets better after about three years. She was right. The first year gets you past all those awful "firsts" - the first holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, all the markers in the year. The second year you start to get your feet under you and learn how to do everything by yourself. The third year you find your rhythm and begin to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment and independence. And every day you become a bit more accustomed to your new world and it becomes less strange.
You've listened to me talk about losing my identity and purpose. It seems that I have found them again. My identity has come only partly from seeing myself through the eyes of others. I'm aware when they are wrong about me, which I believe is a healthy sign that I really do know myself now. I've learned how to see myself without having you to reflect me back to myself. And I've become firmer in who I am than I was before, probably the result of having to find myself without having your eyes to see through.
Purpose isn't the same kind of purpose it used to be - isn't a person (that was you) anymore - it's an amalgamation of roles and responsibilities. I have fashioned it to be what I want it to be and it fits me very well. I've turned my church responsibilities over to the next generation, which is a good thing in many ways. I have family and friends and a job, I knit and take care of the house, the animals and I rescue each other. I have my niche and it is good.
I'm doing much better spiritually, too. You remember, even before we got married, you were concerned that I would love you more than I loved God. I never did, but you came first in your own way. Now God is first and all, and I find myself with an overwhelming love for Him that I haven't felt since my teenage years. It's rather like what Paul said about widows giving themselves to God; I understand that now as I never could before. My dependence on Him is total; His provision for me is unfailing.
Can I sum this up? I am, at last, doing more than surviving. I appear to be thriving. I am happy. I am amazed by this turn of events. I feel a bit like I'm coming out of the shadow into the sun. Again, as if you didn't know already, I love and miss you no less. I look forward no less to being with you again. But I am joyful and thankful in this in-between-time. I don't doubt that there will be periods when grief again overwhelms me. But I am enjoying my life; I never expected that.
Thank you for the part your prayers have played in this. Thank you for being certain I'd get here even when I thought you were being delusional. You've always had more faith in me than I did. You believed me to be tougher than I thought. It seems that you were right - there is nothing surprising in that. So smile tonight, knowing that I am smiling, too.
Love you with all my happy heart,