Ever have a day when you just crave a little normal? I was having one of those days.
I’d gotten in really late, after a delayed flight, from leading another Widows’ Tale Retreat and I was exhausted. My mind was swirling in the stories of courage and bravery, and all I wanted that morning was coffee in my favorite red cup (a gift from a women’s retreat in W.Va.) . All I wanted to do was sip my coffee from a rocker and watch the butterflies sip nectar from the last of my flowers. I was craving a little normal.
But if I wanted normal, I shouldn’t have listened to my voice mail because change was on the other line.
I heard a long-absent voice. A friend of my husbands. “Hey, guess who this is?” (He has a draw as thick as molasses but a vocabulary that reveals his Ivy League education so it wasn’t much of a stretch to figure it out.) “Listen, I’ve been thinking about you… I guess you heard I got a divorce.” (Hmmm. No, I would know this how? None of our mutual friends has contacted me since his death.)
Long story short, how many reasons are there for a divorced man to call a widowed woman anyway? And, he’s one heck of a man, just let me say that. He’s one of those guys you don’t easily forget. Devastatingly handsome and charming when he wants to be. This is a man who plays by his own rules, lives a high-stakes poker game on a daily basis, and has the money and brains to usually get away with it (although maybe the divorce indicates that this time he didn’t.). “No” isn’t in this man’s vocabulary. There was a time when this kind of man would have swept me off my feet.
But that was then and this is now. Then, it would have been hard to see past his shiny, elegant facade. Now, my “BS Meter” is at absolute zero. I imagine you know the feeling. Now, I only want what’s real and true. I don’t need a man who comes coated in molasses and BS. I’ve been through so many changes in the last 6 years I’ve lost count. Like you, I’ve ridden change like a bucking bronco, broken a few bones and suffered multiple bruises.
And on this wild ride, I’ve discovered a me I didn’t know very well before. In the dark hours of waiting, I’ve learned that I’m much braver than I ever guessed and stronger than I thought. I’ve had my heart ripped open in a neuro ICU, cared for the man I loved like a child and then done the unthinkable and pulled the plug. Death is different from divorce. To quote his words, you “GET” a divorce. Divorce is something you do, death is something that is done TO you. And change becomes your only constant.
These changes fly at you faster than a middle-school fist fight. And you struggle and cry and wait in the dark alone, clinging to any sliver of light. But one day you find that you have a new normal. Not the one you thought you’d have , but one you have carved out for yourself from the hard granite of grief and confusion and change.
Death is a powerful teacher and it will quickly teach you that change is the only constant. But In the soft darkness of grief, life after death begins to swell deep within your bowels. It follows the slivers of light like a bulb lifting out of ice at the end of winter. This new life is built from the depths of your strength and the sweet memories of love.