I’ve lived two lives in almost 30 years of living. We’ve talked before about the befores and afters. But the life I’m living now, is just exactly that, for the now. And, I promise this won’t be a plug for YOLO. GASP, goodness just thinking about that craziness scares me!
I’ve spent 29 years and 6 months playing it safe. Planning every aspect. I thrived off predictability. Plan A, B, C , D and the ever trusting plan E for the absolute emergency. My life was a planned out event. I was the conductor of my own symphony. Orchestrating lesson plans, child care for the afternoon parent teacher meeting, making dr appointments for J, only to reschedule them because the court date was moved, and he had to attend court. Packing lunches, refilling insulin prescriptions, planning trips home for the weekends that he worked, so that we could have family time, but not miss time with him. Planning a birthday party for the weekend before or the weekend after someone’s actual birthday just to ensure it was J’s weekend off. I was a well oiled machine. And, honestly, I rarely made time for myself.
For those who knew me before J’s death, you probably would have nicely used the terms control freak, planner, safe, and slightly if not entirely square. I rarely made jokes; I lived in fear of embarrassment. I hid my face in shame at J’s crazy gestures, jokes, and comical attitude. I rarely took chances. J was the risk taker, the throw life all of the table and see what it gives you. He didn’t go half speed into anything. Nothing was calculated in his personal life. If you weren’t giving it your all, disregarding embarrassment, political correctness, and your wife’s constantly flushed face from your recent joke or prank, then you simply weren’t living-in J’s world. I learned to ignore his less than normal social interactions, and to compensate for his lack of political correctness. In the early stages of our marriage, I’d actually become angry at him because of a prank. I simply found it near impossible to, “laugh it off, and enjoy life.” J and I enjoyed life differently…but all the while I compensated, rectified, and ignored, I admired him. I was always jealous of his ability to let go and live. Everyday J was alive, he lived it. I, well I lived, if you mean I breathed, ate, slept, and most importantly planned. Envious all the while. After some time, I just gave it up. I figured this was the way God made me. My planning and calculated life had its role and place in our relationship. And, let me just say, no one is to blame for who I was. I just craved the safety of a calculated life.
Other officer’s wives will understand this, I even planned what I would do if I ever received a knock on my door. If I ever had to raise our son without his daddy. I planned financially, emotionally, and physically. Planning didn’t erase the fear, but it eased it. It was my way of coping…
And then 6 and a half months ago all the planning was to be enacted. Except, well, from the moment I answered the door, I didn’t follow the plan. In fact, I forgot about it all together. I lived in those moments. Each minute from that knock until about 3 months after it, I lived in each moment. I stopped trying to plan after about 15 hours into the hospital stay, and I just lived. I used to say I survived. That word has exited my mouth more times than I can count. In fact, up until about 20 minutes ago, mid-flight to Orlando, I would have told you I survived. But, a 2 hour flight provides excellent reflection time. I know, “technically,”the denotation of survive and live are essentially the same. The connotation, the emotions attached to the two words, well there in lies the difference. For the past 6 and a half months, I have chosen to live each moment not to survive. Surviving is what the old me would do. To make use of, ration out, and plan for the worst with every essential item I was given. The old plan, was a survival plan. The new plan, well, it’s simple-to live.
As I’m writing to you from somewhere between Texas and Florida, I’m in awe at my, “bravery,” as some call it, to travel ALONE and more crazily, WITH a 5 year old! Gasp! Yes, I’m in awe at being on this flight because the old me wouldn’t have taken the risk! She would have always wanted for C to experience Disney, but would have fretted too much over the germs, the crowds, the risk of driving or flying. I would have worried about saving the money, and then spending it, and what if we needed it later on. I would have been so focused on the what ifs, that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, if we did take the trip.
As we are prepping for landing in Florida, I am at peace. I am enjoying the sounds of a awe-struck, police officer’s child, who is looking out the window into the dark clouds of nightfall, and telling me, “flying on the night shift is the best!” Yep, he refers to anything performed after dark as, “the night shift.” I recall those ever so distant plans of what I would do if J were ever killed, and I chuckle. Who needs plans? Who needs worry? I have plenty of things to worry over, but they won’t change because I worry. I don’t need any of those plans, because none of them were about living. And yes, planning in some capacities has its place in life. To sine degree, planning is part of being an adult, and living a successful life. But, planning doesn’t have to be ALL of your life!
Instead, what I need is for C to experience life, as, “daddy flies on his Angel wings beside us.” I need him to live his life to fullest, to have no regrets. I had always PLANNED on J To cultivate these characteristics in C. Characteristics I was adamant he have. I didn’t want him to miss out on anything! Now, instilling the ability to live into C is my job! And, while the old me might have worried, and the new me sometimes still does, we are living.
If some people look at our living, and they mistake it for not “properly grieving”the death of my husband. Please know, I respect your right to feel that way, but I’m laughing at you. Because for those of you who knew J, you know he’s dancing his crazy moves in heaven watching his wife become more and more like him. After losing J, I spent some time thinking that living wasn’t grieving. That I couldn’t do both. And, in doing so, I spent a short time not living… I lost myself, only to find a new one. So for those who think, “gallavanting across the USA” isn’t appropriate. I’m sorry. Each person grieves differently, and if you grieve in your home, great. Grieving however you want to is fine. But as for me, we are grieving, but choosing to live in the process.
After the death of a loved one, everyone feels his or her presence differently. Reassurance on difficult times, peace when needed…me, I feel those too. But most accurately, I feel him pushing me on to live, and to help others along my way.
Tonight, as I’m literally, landing in Orlando, the new me is loving it! C is promising me daddy is right outside the window, now riding on the wings,( TOTALLY a J Thing to do), and I’m smiling. We miss him more than words could ever tell you, but we feel him more and more each day.
We are living!