Today marks 11 months since I last held Vern in my arms. And I miss him. I know that I am lucky ... so very lucky ... lucky that we found each other ... lucky that we had 41 wonderful years together ... lucky that his passing was peaceful. But none of that makes me miss him any less. I will miss him until I draw my last breath and we are together again. In the midst of all of that missing, however, I do know that I will survive. I am who I am because of Vern - and I will strive to make this new life honor him.
Emotions have a way of visiting whenever they please. Sometimes they surprise me, other times I anticipate their arrival. But I believe that feeling what I feel whenever I feel it is extremely important. And I'm trying to do that more now. To be real. Sure, there are still times I must put on the 'happy face' - don't we all have to do that, even if you're not a widow? But I don't resent having to do that any longer ... as long as I can also just succumb to the emotions whenever I need to.
So I've made some good progress, I think. Coming up on the one year mark is rather daunting. In some ways I can't believe it's been that long, but other times it feels like forever. But one thing the impending one year mark is doing for me is helping me realize I must make some changes. I can no longer ignore my mail or housework or the house repairs or the yard or the cars. Those are things that I am responsible for and putting my head in the sand and ignoring them is just plain ridiculous. Can I do all of those things? Of course I can. I don't like having to do it all, and I miss being able to talk to Vern about things, to get his advice, to hear his recommendations. But I really am quite capable. I handle everything at work just fine, so this behavior is rather odd ... but I'll just blame it on being a widow.
I think that part of my progress is a result of my attending Camp Widow last weekend in San Diego. Being with nearly 300 others who understand what this is like was healing. There were tears and laughter, good lessons learned in the workshops, new friendships made but some hurt feelings, too. Finally being able to express all of those varied emotions really had an impact on me. It was exhausting. I stayed an extra day so I could see some of the sights, and ended up sleeping most of Sunday afternoon and ordering room service that night. I've worked my way through all of those emotions and feel like I've turned a corner. And I've signed up to attend BOTH of the Camp Widows to be held next year!
What a wonderful surprise greeted me when I returned home Monday ... the messy front yard had been completely cleaned up - thanks to a dear neighbor. I kept thinking Jer & I could do it, but after doing part of it in this heat I realized I needed to just call someone to get it done. But I never got around to making the call - I have such a horrible problem with procrastination. I am amazed at how differently I feel now when I walk out the front door. I didn't realize the impact the overgrown plants, dead palm fronds and weeds was having on me. It's rather amazing. And that realization has helped me understand how important it is that I get the mess inside the house cleaned up, too. I've made a start and I have a plan. Finally.
So I'm in a pretty good place today at 11 months. Not sure how I'll feel tomorrow ... it would have been our 42nd wedding anniversary. I'm off work, don't have any plans for the day, but thinking it would be a good day to sort through some old photos ... to spend some time with nice memories. I gave myself a "pay it forward" anniversary gift tonight by helping someone who is having a rough time financially. They said, "You saved my life." Oh my. I actually felt Vern smiling. Wish I could have saved his life.