Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today Is Really All We Have

I don't mean to be a whiner, but I don't like my life right now. I know I have good reasons to be unhappy. That's never made much difference to me in the past, though. I've been chronically discontented for years, for basically no reason at all. That's how it seems to me now, at least, in retrospect.

I hope my husband, wherever he is, can read this. Honey, you were right. I shouldn't have complained so much. Huge irritations at the time, like a neighbor's yapping dog or a friend's obnoxious girlfriend, seem so darn trivial now.

Why did I get so pissed off, so often? Too much stress, perhaps. I was a small-town newspaper editor, for Pete's sake. It's a wonder I never went totally postal, especially after my 23rd annual Cub Scout pancake feed. There's so many other ways I'd rather spend a Saturday morning. Sleeping, for instance.

Am I a "Type A" personality, maybe? Is it my headstrong astrological sign, Taurus the bull? Since I had two red-headed grandmothers, is it like, a genetic thing? The Irish in me?

Who knows why we all do what we do, or act like we act. Every unpleasant personality trait I possess can probably be easily blamed on my mother. I mean, everything that’s wrong with everybody is always their mother’s fault, isn’t it?

Actually I lived with my husband far longer than I did with my mother. We'd been married for 38 years, were just going along, and then one day, "poof!" He was gone. It's been six months now and I can still hardly get my mind around it.

Oh, it’s sunk in, all right. He's gone forever. I get that part. It's my future without him that I'm having trouble envisioning. I can’t see the road ahead anymore.

I feel like an old draft horse that’s lost its reliable pulling partner of many years. I still feel double-yoked, but I'm simply going in circles, pulling blindly, wondering where in the hell I’m headed.

I feel so lost and get so tired without my sturdy partner beside me. He was the leader, the biggest horse, the strongest one. It's his steadying presence that I miss the most. It calmed me.

If God's got the reins, I'll be okay, I try to remember. But my life is as unfamiliar to me now as if I had followed a bright blue light into a spaceship and been whisked off to another galaxy. Nothing is the same as it was last year at this time. Nothing.

Like a lot of couples, we'd planned for our retirement for years. We were almost there. But I tell you: Don't do that so much. Don’t pin all your hopes on your future. Live in the moment and try to enjoy it. It is true that the present is all we really have.

However, I can’t stand to hear someone say, "Live each day like it's your last." Are you kidding? It’s my last day? That makes me want to run right down to the bar, start pounding down Jack Daniels shots, puffing on Marlboros and looking for a biker to take me for a ride on a fast Harley. Hey, "to each his own," applies to bucket lists, too.

Better wording comes to mind. I think it's from the Bible. "This is the day that the Lord has made," it goes, "Rejoice and be glad in it."

Right. Currently it's three degrees above zero and pitch-dark here already at 4:30 p.m. My feet are cold because my dogs have all deserted me for warmer places than under my desk.

But I'm not going to say, "Boy, I hate winter; I can't wait 'til spring." I've already wished enough of my life away.

So I guess I’ll go sit by the fire, enjoy the heat and see if I can’t find me a warm and willing dog belly to scratch.


  1. It is during this time Donna that you will find a "new normal." That's how I describe it to people. It happens when your current reality becomes your normal. Not that you can't remember how it was before, but you've lived with the new issues long enough that you incorporate them into your life and then it becomes... well, normal again. Sam's autism was not going away, but how I responded to it had to change, else I'd have been a blubbering mess even now. So, all this to say that everything you are feeling now is quite expected. I love that you are focusing on how much we all tend to live in "when" and not "now." Is there a support group for spouses left behind in your area? Truly, sometimes it does help to be with others who can truly say, "I know how you feel." No one else can say they understand truly. Just know that the fact that you are working to process it all is such progress. Hugs to you.

  2. I wish there were some words of wisdom I could give you to ease your pain but I can't. What I can do is say a pray that with God's help you will find the strength to enjoy each day once again.

  3. Yepper - woke up one day and found I'd been a jerk for much of my life. It's a hard thing to deal with, reality, when my own reality was far different from what I had imagined. You'll get through it of that I have no doubts. But where you end up is going to be radically different from what you think it will be. Just KNOW that God's will is being done in your life. The choices are yours and He'll stand by you as you struggle with the everyday choices that used to be so simple, especially when those choices were based on long standing habits acquired in concert with another. God bless you Donna - we pray for you daily. Love ya - Steve

  4. When I read the title of your post--I immediately thought CARPE DIEM. That wonderful theme in so much poetry--seize the day.
    Grab the time you have.
    While I don't think in terms of--live as though it's my last day--I suppose truthfully every day is our last day.
    But every day is also the first day.
    I agree with Jayne--the new normal. I certainly have not had the life-altering challenges you are living through, but I have had some unexpected curve balls thrown my way. It is a struggle to find the new normal. But in each instance, I have.
    You will too--because you want to.
    By the way, I do so enjoy the shepherds slide-show. What handsome dogs.

  5. Hug those dogs (I know they are hugging you in their way); seek the light; remember with tears; find one thing to anticipate with gladness; indulge yourself a bit; know that you are loved. That last one can be so hard. Believe it anyway.


  6. I too think Jayne said it all best. My daughter in law attended support classes that were very helpful. Some of the things I shared with my son I had to give up. Yet new things/interests have slowly taken their place. Life goes on but their will always be the ache and the what ifs.....

  7. Isn't it amazing how our perspective changes after a sudden loss (or in your case, two sudden losses). I used to regret so much about how I was "before" but I'm thinking now that was how life had to work for me to learn what I needed to learn; I'm so stubborn I'm not sure I could have gotten it any other way. The hardest part now is wishing my kids could learn from my learning and save themselves those years of grief...

    The gift in it all is the wonderful discovery of the life and love that are now...


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