Thursday, March 3, 2016

A New Milestone

Dear John,
 
I have good news tonight. Sometime while I wasn't looking, I passed a new milestone. A few days ago I realized that I am no longer sorry to be alive. I know - you're saying, "Well, it's high darn time!" From your point of view, I'm sure that it is. From here, it's something I never dreamed would happen. I always thought I'd gut it out, forcing myself to go through each day, until I could finally come join you. The day we got your cancer diagnosis in Dr. Ansari's office, I thought I'd never have a happy moment again. I expected to exist on pure stubbornness and hoped to die as quickly as possible.
 
That's very much what the first three-something years were like. But I've turned out to be more adaptable that I realized. Don't get me wrong - I'd still give everything to have you back, and I take great joy in the thought of being with you again someday. But I've learn to be happy here. It's a different kind of happiness than I had with you, but happiness it is. First I learned to be content and to take satisfaction from learning to be on my own - those first milestones like learning how to change the line in the trimmer and put oil in the mower and do my own taxes. Then, somewhere and somehow, happiness snuck up on me and I found myself enjoying life again.
 
There are still times I cry, still some meltdowns when being without you overwhelms me. I expect that there will always be. But I have my job, which includes new challenges and new friends, and I have a social life now. That social life isn't the same, partly since I'm not part of a couple, and partly because I'm not so comfortable for my married friends to be with anymore because I know I remind them of the mortality of their own husbands. But I have single friends my own age, and a few new married friends that didn't know you and so they aren't spooked by your absence, and maybe also aren't grieving for you themselves.
 
One of my best new friends is a man - you know Richard from down the street. When I prayed for a single friend my age, I didn't really think I needed to specify that I wanted a woman friend. But it's good - he can carry bags of softener salt for me and unstick my windows. And he knows what it's like to reach our age and suddenly be on your own. So I'm doing my civic duty once again, giving Topeka something to talk about. We've always been happy to do that, haven't we? We always figured that, if they're talking about us, there's somebody else they're not talking about. And gossip in this town is never unkind. People talk because they care. There's no malice in it.
 
So that's what's going on here: I am okay with being alive. Work is good; I still enjoy the job and like the people I work with. It took me a whole two hours to do and file my taxes, and I got a refund. I even got a refund on state - not an easy thing in Indiana - because I got a tax credit for the new water heater. The animals are doing well. I had Hunter in for his yearly check-up today and he passed with flying colors. The new renal food and the cranberry supplement have his renal problem under good control. Now he smells like the vet's office, so Abby is hissing and spitting at him, but being my phlegmatic Hunter, he's taking all of that in stride.
 
One morning last month I woke up, sat up, and the bed broke. It turns out that the frame the box springs sit on was attached to the bed with short, tiny screws. So I took the thing apart, drilled new pilot holes, used larger-gauge 2 1/4 inch screws, put it all back together, turned the mattress while I was at it, and it's fine now. I had to shut Jethro out of the room because he wanted to play with the drill, silly dog. Has there been any more excitement? I don't think so.
 
Oh, college basketball season is winding down. Kentucky and Duke haven't had great seasons but I've had a great time watching them. If you haven't seen Kentucky, check out Tyler Ulis, their point guard. He's an amazing kid. UK and Duke will both go to the tournament. IU has also had a good season. It's March now, so sleep deprivation is on the horizon. You know it was a long time before I could watch sports without you. I'm fully back into football and basketball, and soon I'll find out how I'm doing with baseball. The Cubs are televised tomorrow at 4:00, but I'm working until 6:00 so I'll miss that one. It should be a good season and I'm hoping I can be there for it. I want to stretch myself, but not push myself too far too fast. I'll see how it goes.
 
It's bedtime now. I've gotten used to going to bed by myself, but I still miss having you on the other side of the bed. One dog and three cats just can't replace you! Come visit me in my dreams.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

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