Down for the Count Up, 4

FOURS, OCTOBER 5, 2010

Who decided to measure significance in fours?

Scholarly times, significant times, self discovery and soul expansion; whether we realized it or not.

First year scared, uncertain, going through the motions and just trying to keep up. We don’t think about seniors because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be them.

Second year more comfortable, finding routines to follow, not so much worried about being lost, we know our place, for now. 

Third year holding our own, established, feet planted firmly in ownership of our roles, noticing a new class of freshmen.

Fourth year – accomplishment, realized a pinnacle, and confidently measured our success and scholarship.
Some of us went on to college and some of us decided not to take another quarter ride.

Widowhood is a lot like that.

First year scared, uncertain, go through the motions and just try and keep up. We don’t think about happy because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be that again.

Second year not so uncomfortable, not so much worried about being trampled by anniversary dates, holidays and every days since we’ve already been through a round of those. 

Third year it seems we’re holding our own, sort of established, feet planted firmly because we’re tired of change, noticing more freshman faces and wondering if they’ll survive.

Fourth year – taking careful measure of each minor success in our educational journey, we don’t really need to decide to go on pursue a higher education. It just comes with this particular type of scholarship; not exactly a free ride – this one comes with a moral obligation to guide, if we can. Some of us will decide we’ve learned enough. Some of us will seize the opportunity to further our education.

So here I am, four years later having completed a reluctantly personal four year scholarship to widowhood. Not a freshman, or a sophomore, not even a junior anymore: I’m a senior.

I’m sure I haven’t learned all the “alone” there is to know in the universe, but I’ve established a pretty firm, well-rounded foundation. I’m sure additional unanticipated lessons will come my way. Circumstances seem to dictate further education is in store. Never content standing still, I guess I’m headed into the college years now.

Maybe, after another 4, I might qualify for some sort of teaching certificate. Although after another 4, I will no longer be a “young” widow, so I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to the younger accidental scholars. On the other hand, I anticipate, not with happiness, that there will be more peer aged victims of the inevitable.

I keep coming back to the conclusion that timing is everything. So how we count it is important.

Whether it’s a four-year program, a five or eight year program or an accelerated path, time doesn’t change the way you hurt, it merely adjusts your tolerance for the pain and moves it towards a strange and previously unimaginable acceptance.

Don’t Panic. But, …

 

There are days when *snorts* are needed.

The internet and all my friends seem to know this. We’re not  ‘not taking this seriously.’ We’re after comic relief and connection: witty, realistic – poking fun at ourselves and silently affirming “For now, I am OK.’

Tonight, I’m just distracted. Waiting to see how this all goes, along with everybody else.

I don’t know more; I don’t know less. I’m doing my best to learn what I can. Working for a healthcare organization has been informative. Watching a pandemic plan become reality is both terrifying and fascinating.

The last time I spent any time in public setting with strangers milling around was March 7th. Not that it means anything concrete, just feeling a little more on the positive side about staying negative.

As far as being alone, I’m ok with that.

I’ve been social distancing for years. That’s what introverts do. Especially, widowed ones. I joked the other night that I’ve been preparing for this for most of my life.

My comfort with the possibility of quarantine is unusual. I was sort of stunned reading an article that advised if you were alone – quarantined in any way – and unable to emotionally handle no human contact – online therapists are available for social distancing counsel by phone, video or chat.

What struck me about it, was that up until now, we’ve been told we are physically becoming a no-contact nation. The fact that folks are obtaining virtual ‘contact’ readily at an instant’s notice disturbed some. We’re available to each other 24/7 by phone, email, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so many newer options. Unless, you choose not to be, of course.

Except for that brief interlude with Jeff, spending time alone is norm. I was single for way longer than I was married, and am single once again. Just a fact that colors my view a little brighter. I won’t be blinded by the light of being alone in a temporary life of murky pastels that people are so afraid of.

There’s so much good happening online.

Metropolitan Opera, Zoos, Musicians, Actors (capitalized for a reason) are offering capital distraction; excellent capital. Good things – reading books, giving virtual tours, playing music for free when normally they’d be selling out venues. I’ve seen more photos of families playing games then… ever.

I’m trying not to breathe while using hand sanitizer – it makes me cough. I’ve eaten lunch with the same few people I have been for years – and yes, we sat at one table – and no, we were not 6 feet away. I stopped in someone’s office this morning, realized I was too close, and backed out with apology. The conversation continued a moment, but the lack of privacy with me standing in the hall, cut our interaction short.

So. That’s my longer than usual ramble., for now

As seen in video (not sure if it was FB or IG) I hope I’m quoting correctly or at least paraphrasing well.

“Don’t Panic. But don’t be an idiot, either.” Billie Eilish

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Then and Still

 

The others whom Jeff left behind supported and needed support. Each at the table had at least two dedicated decades of love; some had the full 42.

I was acutely aware I was the one with the least of his lease on life.

In my mind, then and still, the foundations of long-standing years made their loss more severe. I imagined, then and still, the burden of that type of pain surely surpassed mine.

My heart hurt, then and still, for all who had the fortune of Jeff, longer. I only had him for 8 and I was lost.  If I had had him just a moment longer, I would have hurt one more moment worse.

Somehow, some things were already settled. I wasn’t aware of anyone else’s desires, nor did I ask.

My insistence on cremation was the echo of Jeff’s desire. I didn’t want that or not want that. It was what he wanted; therefore, honor worthy.

Surrounded by an invisible buffer, pressurized, cocooned in an observationist air pocket, though not physically isolated, I felt alone. And that was not a reflection of anyone present.

In my seat, I was alone. In my specific type of grief born of my specific role, I was alone. I was just as alone as the other roles represented that morning. None of our grief was the same; couldn’t be, shouldn’t be, would never be.

When we got down to business, the first task was verbally gathering family history and personal information – the sort you need for an obituary.

I was immensely grateful my brother took over proof-reading and corrections. Multiple re-writes and edits later, I felt a bit bad for the funeral planner kid. Which isn’t a derogatory statement. He was young; 20’s-ish.

Whenever asked a decision-required question, Jeff’s father would, in turn, ask it of me. Though deferred to, my choices considered heritage.

Like purposefully choosing the funeral pamphlet featuring a semi-silhouetted blue-hued barn, silo, and field. There couldn’t have been any other choice worth considering.

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