So it wouldn’t seem that writing a once-a-month column would be such a hard thing. Certainly from one month to the next, plenty of ‘stuff’ happens to generate material for a few hundred words. True enough. Mostly my columns tend to be the ‘spur of the moment, what’s happening in my world now’ type pieces, hopefully something to give the reader a chuckle or two or maybe writing something they can identify with, nodding in agreement.
That being said, I have put off writing this column until the last possible moment because it is difficult to think about, much less to write.
I’ve been having a tough time lately and it took me a little while to figure it out. I have been alternately moody and quiet or prone to outbursts of emotion, finding myself getting teary-eyed for no apparent reason.
While I was trying to determine what might be going on – and if, under the stress of a demanding job – I was finally beginning to ‘lose it’ the realization hit. Yesterday, September 1 marked my late husband’s birthday and this upcoming September 15 would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. It has been a little over two-and-a-half years since he passed away and for some reason, this year it is all hitting me. Hard. Maybe because this would have been a milestone, 20 years, having gotten married in 1995 when he accompanied me on a vacation to New York to meet my parents. We didn’t have any real plans to get married on that vacation but, sometimes you just roll with it and things fall into place.
There is plenty of information out there about the various stages of grief and certainly there are those instances when you can be experiencing more than one stage at a time or one right after another. One thing I do know, there isn’t a timetable for dealing with loss. In fact, I’m not sure you ever fully get over it. You learn to cope, you learn to go on. But ‘getting over it’ sounds much easier than it is.
My daughter and I were talking about this recently, after having attended the funeral of my husband’s ‘adoptive’ mom, the mother of his lifelong best friend. It was the first funeral I had been to since my husband’s and maybe that’s what touched all of this off. Yes, I was able to cry but I was also able to smile at the memories of time spent with this wonderful woman and her family as my husband and our own family spent many holidays there over the years, attended birthday celebrations and sometimes just dropped in because there had been a fresh peach cobbler made. In fact, she always made two – one for my husband and one for everybody else.
It was while my daughter and I were remembering some of those times that we inevitably talked about her dad and she asked me why I hadn’t cried at his funeral. In thinking back, I believe it was just pure shock and the feeling that I had to keep it all together for our kids – the daughter we shared and the two sons I inherited – that made it not only necessary, but acceptable at the time, to be the ‘strong’ one; to power through and say and do all the right things and maintain a sense of stability for those around me, even when everything was upside down.
Then you have to get through all the ‘firsts’ – the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first anniversary of the loss – and the more time you spend getting through it, the less time you take to work through it.
Maybe now is finally my time to work through it.
This could take a while; just consider me a work in progress.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.