Friday, September 30, 2016

Lost

I will admit to still feeling a bit lost in my life. I seem to be making progress but there are still times I feel very much alone and not quite sure how I got to this place.

I have lost 50 lbs now since July 1st. It seems like a lot, but for at least a month after my life was so tremendously altered, I could barely look at food. I ate nearly nothing. I would get faint when I stood up occasionally. I knew it wasn't healthy, but there was nothing I could do about it. With only a few bites I would become so nauseous I couldn't continue eating. So I lost 25 lbs the first month.

Because I am alone I no longer follow regular mealtimes. I eat when I'm hungry but tend to grab a piece of fruit rather than a donut. Because once I got such a good start at losing weight I decided that maybe one good thing could come from this disaster and I could get back to the healthy weight that had been evading me for so long. And so it has happened that I am still on this weight loss journey and plan to continue it for some time to come. I feel good about at least one thing in my life right now, and after all, its the only thing I have any control over so it feels good. Every other thing in my life has been altered and is beyond my control. So here I am controlling what I can.

I was told today that I looked good. I wanted to tell them that a few months ago I was "fat and happy" and now I'm not either one. Its a sad place to be, and I would go back in an instant if I could have my life back. But I am enjoying the feeling of being healthy and able to put on a pair of pants without a struggle and without looking in the mirror and saying "Ugg!" I am still a work in progress, even at my age, and have a long way to go to be where I want to be. But here's to the horrible things that can happen in life. May they all have at least one positive outcome.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Darkness

As much as I love the fall, I don't think I anticipated how sad the gray days would make me. Yesterday I just moped around all day, getting the work done that I needed to do, but never feeling happy or content, slumping under the weight of the dark world outside.

Of course that's not a typical fall problem - dark, rainy days can happen at any time of the year. But there was something about the whole atmosphere that just about did me in. It was just not a great day mentally and I attribute it to the weather.

Of course I realize during times of grieving, which I totally am, that there will be good and bad days. And as the good ones begin to outweigh the bad ones its harder, I think, to regress. So maybe its just not easy to suddenly find yourself in that dump of a place in your head after climbing out for days at a time. But the rain, and the gray skies, did nothing to help, that's for sure!

I am looking forward to next week because it seems as though this one is going to be more gray than sunny. I'm planning a dinner party Saturday night just to make myself socialize and have a purpose. Its a small step, but important. There are some things I refuse to have taken from me. And joy is one of them.

So, as we progress through this gray, rainy, depressing week I am looking forward to fun and laughter at the end. Its the only way to fight back!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Friends

I have never before understood the value of friends the way I have in these past three months. Oh, I always put great value on my friends and have worked hard in my life to cultivate good friends. I try hard to be a good friend and to be there for mine when they need me. Its not easy when you lead a busy life, but I try. But now, after what I've been through, I know more than ever how truly precious and fortunate it is to have special people who help you take care of yourself. It has given me a new appreciation for relationships.

I've been especially touched by the way friends have reached out to me. I've been taken out for meals, entertained in homes, met for breakfasts, and had so many impromptu drop-in visits at my back door that I can no longer count them. I've had many heart-to-heart talks as others tried to help me come to terms with what's happened to me and around me. I've been incredibly touched by the way some people (who are fairly new friends) have touched me, and how those I've known for so many years have comforted me simply by their presence. Its totally been my lifeline.Without these people I think I might have curled up in a ball and waited to die.

I can see that special friends are not always the ones you've always had in your life. Rather they're the ones who care enough to come to you even when they have no idea what to say or do. They simply want to "be there" for you. And they don't mind saying "I don't know what to say...." Nobody does really. But they put aside their own discomfort and questions to minister to someone else. Its amazing really. Sometimes all it takes is a hug to let someone know they are not alone.

Its taught me about friendship all over again. Its taught me that friends come in all types. Its reminded me that true friends are the ones who come to you, not run the other way. Because there are those who run! But they are the people who will be there for you no matter what. They are worth their weight in gold. I pray to be one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chaos

I must do something about my home office. It's in a state of complete chaos.

I am the kind of person who like order, but doesn't always manage it. I tend to keep many spaces neat and clean but others seem to fall into a pattern of messiness within weeks of a good cleaning, either because of their nature...or mine. Or maybe a combination of both. I'm not sure.

My office at this moment is in terrible shape. I need to clean it top to bottom, throwing out excess paperwork and nonsense and getting it to a place where I can find things. It has become the "dumping ground" of my house and whatever I don't know what to do with, I throw out there. And now I need to figure out what to do with all those things that are now piled onto surfaces and floor and into cabinets so I can figure out what's important and what isn't.

It won't happen today. Today I'm about as busy as I ever am, with my volunteer hours from 7:30 to 9:30 at the hospital, a doctor's appointment at 9:45, two stops on the way back to East Hampton, three stops once I get home, a meeting at 1 and brownies to bake before my meeting at 6:30. It's one of those days. I had to write out a schedule just to make sure I don't forget something. It will be right where I can see it in my car as I careen from one thing to another all day and try to remember where my next stop is.

Maybe tomorrow though. I'm thinking tomorrow may be cleaning day in my office. And maybe by tomorrow night I'll feel better about my house...and my world.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Normal"

So I've come to a new place in my life right now and I'm happy to say I have found a "new normal". Although I still have very sad days and miss my old life, I can say to anyone going through a similar loss that the following are answers I've come to know:

Question: Will I ever be able to sleep again?
Answer: You will sleep again. And you'll feel good when you wake up instead of dreading the day.

Question: Will I ever be able to have a full and contented life alone?
Answer: You will have a new life, it will be a different life, but it will be a good life. All your other blessings are still around you. Embrace them and try not to dwell on what has been taken from you!

Question: Will I ever feel the same kind of love again?
Answer: Perhaps not. But the fact is that love was a rare and wonderful thing that you will keep in your heart and treasure and be grateful for having it once. Many people never experience it at all.

Question: Will I ever be able to put food in my mouth again without wanting to vomit?
Answer: Yes. And you will have to work hard to keep losing the weight that has fallen off of you in the time just past.

Question: Will my life ever feel settled?
Answer: I don't know that one yet. There are still so many unsettled things to deal with. But I have hope that it will. Because it seems that time, while not healing everything, is indeed forming that scar tissue that helps lessen the intense pain. The reminder may always be there. But life will be tolerable again!

These are the things I thought about on my morning walk. Because it was the first time in three months now that I haven't woken at 4 or 5am and been unable to go back to sleep because of my unsettled and grieving mind. I had to drag myself out for my morning walk. I could hardly believe it.

So my message today is there is hope. Life does, blessedly, go on. I am feeling optimistic that I will survive. Its a very big day.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Home

After a nice little vacation I am home again. And that feels good.

I went away expecting to continue blogging from where I was, but when I tried to get onto my blog to write, it seems I had forgotten the password. I wasn't able to access and therefore couldn't write. I had plenty to say, but no way to say it. Hrmph! What good is a blog if you can't actually write in it? All this time, the true purpose of this blog was for my own satisfaction - the joy of writing. Needless to say, I was surprised that anyone bothered to read it!

I spend the past week at my daughter's house in Pennsylvania. It was such a great respite from my life right now I can't even tell you. I'm sure I talked too much (for her liking) about what's going on in my life, but it was therapeutic to get away from here and be able to talk to someone. Way too many people at home have advice and counsel that may or may not be helpful. They mean well, but....

I try to keep my personal information to a minimum unless I'm talking with a good friend or family member. If I'm not offering information, don't bother digging around for it. Unless you hear it from me you aren't hearing the truth, and unless I offer it, you're not going to hear it. And so it goes! Ha!

Pennsylvania is beautiful and healing, miles of rolling farmland and Amish farmers out in their fields while their children play on rudimentary playgrounds outside little school houses. Its picturesque and tends to make the burdens of modern life take a back seat to dreams of simpler things. It has the same affect that the ocean does on my soul. And its a nice change.

So, after an early drive back this morning I'm here now. Hopefully I'm not so out of the habit I won't remember to blog now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sad days

I've been trying really hard to make my blogs as uplifting and happy as I can lately. I realize that no one wants to read sad prose or hear about someone else's trials when we all have plenty of our own.

Truthfully the days are largely good ones now. It seems as though the good ones outweigh the bad ones for sure. But when the bad ones come, they are brutal. Perhaps that's because its like being pulled back down into a dark pit that you thought you had escaped from, worse because it all comes back with a bang when I want it to go away for good. I'm not sure why it is, but it seems as though these dark days are just so dark.

And I'm tired of them. I want more joy in my life. And I want more laughs and more fun things. I'm tired of worrying about money and old age and illness and loneliness and all the other things that haunt me right now. I'm tired of it all and I want to know joy again.

Perhaps if I'd never known so much joy it wouldn't be so hard. But I was lucky. Joy was mine. I don't know if it ever will be again, at least not the way it was. But I know today I'm not feeling it and I just can't pretend.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Clutter

I am on a mission to get rid of clutter in my house.

I turned over a new leaf in high school and began to live a clutter-free life which I learned to enjoy tremendously. I had everything neatly put in its place and loved seeing a neat and tidy room when I went to it at night.

Then I got married and the man I married was not a terribly neat person. I didn't want to be a nag and I didn't want to sound like his mother so I cajoled and prodded as gently as I could to accomplish enough to live with, like dirty clothes going into the hamper, but there were many things I gave up in the name of peace and happiness in my marriage. Silly me! What I thought was a happy and fulfilling marriage for both of us turned out to not be so and now I look back and wish I had pushed a little harder and a little longer to accomplish the truly neat spaces I crave.

So, I've begun to clean out the spaces that haunt me: the front entrance, the closets (one by one) and the other hidden spaces which I've always let go for the sake of calm in my house. No longer do I need to worry about anyone else's clutter or compulsive buying - I can get rid of the things I don't need and reorganize what's left.

I'm not in a terrible hurry though. After all, its taken over thirty years in this house to get to the place we are now, so I can't expect things to change overnight. But my guess is that a year from now, the place may be unrecognizable - at least behind all the doors. Now that's something to be happy about!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Small pleasures

Sometimes in life its the simplest, smallest things that give us the most pleasure. A case in point:

A few years back we bought a cheap floor lamp at Ikea for the corner of our living room by the couch. It lasted for a short while but the past year or so it hasn't worked, yet it remained in place, a now dark corner of my main space.

These past few months since I've been alone in my house I've rarely had the television on, preferring instead to spend my nights alone reading novels or informational books. I've always loved to read but haven't been able to do much of it in recent years because I have no good space to go for peace and quiet in my house and when someone else is here its nice to be where they are, enjoying the companionship. Because my companion likes television, that's what was usually the mode of entertainment. So now that I'm back to solo living, the books have taken over a prominent place in my life. And thus the problem. Darkness falling earlier and earlier and no good light to read by in the comfy corner.

So this week I made a trip to shop for a new lamp. I decided to go for a table lamp, which takes up space on the table but is easier to deal with since the floor space in inaccessible for my short arms if I should need to unplug or otherwise deal with that type of lamp.

So I started at TJ Maxx. It was disappointing to say the least. The prices were excellent - ranging from $29.99 to 59.99 - but the selection was poor and the only one that seemed appropriate for my space had a crack in the glass. So back in the car I went and headed back east to stop at Home Goods.

Home Goods had a wonderful section of lamps, as well as some scattered around the store in furniture settings. The only issue was that most were very modern, all lucite and silver, which although beautiful does not really fit into my traditional space. But then as a rounded a corner I saw one on the end of the aisle that I thought might do the trick. It was all white, but not a bright, modern white, more of a creamy traditional white. It had a nice traditional, almost ginger-jar shape, and it wasn't too tall and the shade was not too big around, which were issues I'd found with other ones I looked at. I kept walking around a few more minutes just to make sure I had seen everything and then went back and picked up the one I liked.

I love the way it looks in my living room and I've been reading by its light every night now. And it makes me so happy.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Main Beach

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful annual event at Main Beach. Every year in September the village government hosts both staff and board members (Planning Board, Zoning Board, Design Review Board) along with their spouses to a light dinner on the pavilion and its always a treat on a cool, late summer evening to sit there watching the ocean and being reminded what a great place this is to live. We dine on chili and soup, salad, cookies and fruit. The food is always delicious but even more the company is fun, and of course, the setting is divine.

As I sat last night chatting with a friend my eyes kept going to the water, a medium surf still churned up a bit since last weekend's storm. There was a rip in one area and the waves were breaking in two rows, one further out than the other, with lots of white water across the horizon. As the spray bounced off the face and the foam moved up the sand I remember thinking "There may be other equally beautiful places, but none any better than this". I'm sure living near the Grand Canyon is amazing and no doubt being able to visit the giant redwoods is fabulous too, but this is among the most beautiful places I think. The light at dusk is incredible, diffused through the sea spray and gifting everything with a unique glimmer in light of the fading sun.

I never fail to appreciate this place we call home and I'm always grateful to my ancestors who chose to settle here. I'm sure they did it more for the rich soil and potential bounty than they did for the light, but no doubt they enjoyed the same surf and sand that I do too. Its a place rich in history and beauty, and I love them both.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Early

After a lifetime of wanting to stay in bed when I wake up in the morning I find myself in the mindset of wanting to get up before down these days. This morning it was 5am and that is very early for me.

I did learn over the years to appreciate the morning. When I was young I loved sleeping in until late morning but so many years with an early bird husband and of course getting children off to school turned me in to more of a morning person. But still, I dragged myself out of the bed to walk at 6:15 in the morning, always wishing I had a few more minutes to luxuriate in my bed.

But now that I am alone I find I go to bed much earlier and I wake much earlier and its so much easier to get up than it is to lie there thinking about the issues in my life and pondering the sometimes impossible questions I'm facing. My brain wakes up and immediately goes into overtime and I just can not imagine going back to sleep. I am up for the day.

So here I am this morning fully dressed and ready for the day but the rest of the world is still asleep - at least the world that I need to tap into: stores and businesses, for instance. I can't even go to the dump before 7:00. So I sit and read the paper (if its arrived) or my most recent book. I plan out my day and I think too much.

But there are joys in the morning. The sunrises are often beautiful and the light that streams through the trees is enchanting. On the days I walk I love getting home, cleaning up and being dressed by 7:30. I don't feel as though I'm "burning daylight" as they say. No moments wasted at all.

And so this new day begins. Or I should say "began" since it did over an hour ago now. Hopefully its going to be a productive and happy one. I look forward to that...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Enlightened

I feel a bit more enlightened today. I think as I said I've turned a corner and although setbacks are happening pretty regularly, I think the days when I can look ahead are beginning to outnumber the days I look back. And that's helpful.

Of course its the days I'm in that are the hardest. Finding my way in the present is not easy after so many years. And although losing someone to death is incredibly hard, what I'm dealing with is pretty awful too. Because all our possessions are to be divided now, which means the things we spent a lifetime obtaining and working for are suddenly half of what they were. Worries about money that should not have been an issue suddenly are and nothing is easy at the moment. I didn't expect at this point in my life to have to be worrying about how to pay the bills.

I was pretty frugal years ago out of necessity and I know I can get there again, but in the most recent past its been so nice not to have to always count my pennies before deciding to get a new pair of jeans or some other thing I wanted. As much as I hate going back to that place, I know its doable. I'm trying not to think about the new couches I was hoping to get this fall or the repairs that need to be done upstairs. I know thinking about them will just make me angry and resentful and that's not very productive right now. Its only been just over two months and I can't expect miracles, but I would like to at least feel as though I'm making progress. So the anger is not helpful.

There are plenty of platitudes that talk about each day being a new beginning. I need new beginnings now so I hope that's true.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hermine

Today we are finally getting the brunt of tropical storm Hermine here on the east end.

For days now we've been warned about the high wind, rain, and coastal flooding this storm would bring us. It's been working its way up the coast all week now, charging through Florida earlier and slowly leaving a path of destruction as it crept up the eastern seaboard. All weekend we expected to see the results of the storm which was out at sea just off our latitude, but not much was to be seen.

Then last night I could hear the wind beginning to really howl, rattling the windows of my bedroom and sweeping through the trees, still heavy with leaves in this late summer month. This morning the evidence is everywhere, leaves all over the deck, twigs and small branches littering the ground, and the sound - the sound is always impressive to me. It's not a terrible storm - we've been through much, much worse of course. But it is a storm nonetheless and its impressive in its power and sweeping movements.

I especially love the sound of the wind. I like the way it builds to a crescendo of a roar as the trees bend in its path and then it fades away just as quickly while they bounce back upright. Its a power to be heard but the effects are visible in the movement and aftermath of each big blow.

I don't mind a good storm. This one is fairly low on the scale of the ones we see along the coast here on Long Island. We natives are used to their power and take none of them lightly. We move our outdoor furniture and make sure there are no potential flying objects lying around the yard. And we plan our schedules accordingly. This one may stay awhile and the ocean surf will be a force to be reckoned with as it pounds against our fragile shoreline, taking sand and beachfront with it. But nature does what nature will do. And I'll get home this afternoon and just sit awhile to enjoy it. There isn't much else we can do now, is there?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Recovery

I feel as though I've turned a corner in my recover process and its a good feeling. I know there is still a long way to go before I feel "whole" again, but at least I've come to terms with some things that have been difficult to grapple with. Here are a few of the things that I think most women have to face when they lose their spouses either through death or infidelity, at least when you get to be my age, which means we are no longer young women with a bright future ahead:
1. Never again will a man look at me and see a beautiful, smiling bride, full of youth and promise, walking down the aisle to meet him. That memory will only be held by one person, and that person is gone now. It's as though my own youth went with him.
2. Never again will I feel the comfort of falling asleep at night with a hand on mine, a reassurance of the love I thought I knew.
3. Never again will I hear a familiar voice come in the door to greet me, knowing that person has come in the same door for a lifetime with the knowledge I'll be here waiting anxiously to see him.
4. Never again will I have company for those long stormy nights or snow days that last 36 hours. Or someone to venture out with in the early hours after a storm to clear debris or shovel a walk.
5. Never again will there be someone who shares my memories of a honeymoon in the tropics when love was wonderful and new and life was all ahead of us.
6. Never again will there be someone who remembers those four anxious rides to the hospital at various hours of the day or night, knowing that on the return trip we would be three instead of two.
7. Never again will there be someone to share the memories of those amazing moments when you welcome a new miracle into your relationship, holding a newborn baby and studying that face together, making sure the chosen name fits and dreaming about the future with this new child.
8. Never again will someone remind me of the way I felt when I left the church 43 years ago thinking I was the luckiest person on the face of the earth.
9. Never again will I feel the reassurance of a relationship that's been through the wars and come out the other side.
10. Never again will I feel the comfort of another's long lasting love, thinking we'll grow old together and be there for each other throughout what will come in our final years on earth.
11. Never again will I look forward to leisurely mornings in bed on holidays and weekends, with a warm arm draped over me from behind, assuring me of someone's presence. Or of listening to the sound of breathing as someone sleeps peacefully across the bed, giving me the peace of knowing they're there.
12. Never again will I feel completely at ease with another human being because I've learned the hard way that no one can be trusted fully to always be there for me. My sense of trust is gone forever.

There are more things on this list, of course, but all are similar in nature. There is something very sad about losing a person you built your life around and expected your future to include. But I know that's not to be now. And I'm coming to terms with the loss. In some ways it would be easier to lose those things to death, because no one chooses death. Losing them to a choice is tough to take. But I am beginning to know there is life after the end of a relationship. Even a very long one - and one that I didn't chose to end.

It's just a different life. But it is life and its to be lived fully. Which is what I intend to do.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Anticipation

Mornings are great for me now. I'm at the point in my journey where I wake up with a renewed sense of anticipation for what lies ahead. It was only a month ago when every morning was dreaded. I didn't want to face the new day and I didn't see any hope of a future. But that's beginning to change now and I'm glad.

I love being optimistic and visionary. I hate thinking the world is a terribly place and things are never going to be better than they are right now. Its my nature to be always looking forward to something, always looking up, always excited about the future. So these past two months have been beyond difficult for me as my life took an unexpected and horrible turn.

But here I am only so few weeks later and already I'm beginning to see the light at the end of this tunnel that I've been thrust into. And never more so than in the morning when the day is ahead of me and I can see beauty all around. My favorite time of the year is coming. The holidays are approaching. And all the uncertainty and dread are beginning to be replaced with joy in my blessings and the life I still have to live.

I'm beginning to think my new life just may hold a few really special things in it. I hope so at least!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Independence

Its been a very long time since I lived alone.

When I was young I lived on my own for about 4 months in a small apartment. I remember enjoying the independence but I was rarely alone. I was working so I was out all day, and was already involved with my future husband so we spent most evenings together.

Now that I'm alone again its been a new experience for me. I'm learning to take care of a big house alone, for instance, taking care of all the little details that go with that, like taking garbage to the dump and making sure the outdoor shower is turned off for the winter. When there are two people doing things around a big house they tend to fall into roles and when one is gone that role needs to be filled. Remembering all the details is the trick. Generally speaking when you work as a team, what one doesn't remember the other does. So I'm having to really step up my game.

The other things that's hard to adjust to is the quiet. When you're used to always having someone else around, being alone is different. I'm beginning to enjoy certain aspects of that alone time as I rarely have the television on and have been doing a lot of reading. I'm rediscovering myself in a way, remembering the things I loved doing but either gave up or didn't have time for when I was half of a partnership. I'm realizing how many compromises we make when we live with another person. That's not a bad thing, but it is fun to rediscover my own joys and pleasures. Suddenly I have lots more room to spread out in and much more freedom to explore with.

In the beginning being alone is a bit overwhelming after such a long time without it. After all, I went from a family of six into another family of six so my life has been pretty much filled with people at all times. After all these years I'm pretty much used to sharing space. But finding a new independence is not quite as bad as I thought it would be and I think, just maybe, I'm going to enjoy it a whole lot eventually.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September morn

I can't say I'm sorry to see September. Besides it being one of my favorite months of the year, July and August were the most hellish months of my life so far (and that includes the ones where I was doing chemo, so that's saying a lot). I'm more than glad to see August go and begin to look toward the fall and winter now. I hope these coming months are going to be better than the previous two were.

This particular morning doesn't show much promise though! Its very dark and gray out there, with a constant, soft rain falling. I woke at 6:30 to a heavy downpour. Much needed and nice to listen to, but on this day the rain is not helping my mood. The heavy rain is over for now at least, but I would benefit from seeing the sun. Somehow when spirits are low the dark and dreary days aren't very helpful.

I know there are better days ahead. They'll never be as good as the ones I was expecting and anxiously looking forward to, but they will be better. After all, the Bible tells us that "it rains on the just and the unjust", doesn't it? No matter what we do in life, we all have hardships and troubles. And rain.

For now, this rain will serve as a reminder that life is full of unexpected twists and turns and as much as we may think we know where ours is going, it may not be so. My life have changed dramatically over these past two months and its time to become adjusted to a new normal. Not what I wanted, but where I am. And I'm not one to back down from a challenge. So... here I go!