The cool, rainy weather of the island invigorates me. After living in the Phoenix heat for 26 years, it is a welcome treat. I love it when the sun peeks through the clouds after a rain shower, and water droplets sparkle on the foliage. Trixie enjoys it too. She likes to scamper along the side of a damp road and hurdle over large wet leaves and other obstacles in her path, which is a funny thing. In the desert this dog clearly avoided all puddles and sprinkler systems, opting for hot cement sidewalks at all costs. Here, she and I both relish the freshness of clean air and new life. I have to remind myself that I am not on vacation; this is my life now.
I migrated here anxious to splash brilliantly colored paint onto the blank canvas of my life, but not yet. There is a matter of closure that I must address prior to moving forward. Now that I have relocated and emptied the bins and boxes, there is plenty of space to fill with things I have been neglecting. In the city there were numerous distractions, most of which cost me time and money. There were places to go, people to see, and sundry other excuses to avoid meeting my grief head on. Avoidance behavior is my usual go-to when I don’t want to face hard things, but now I am cornered by rainy days, no car, and limited places to run without falling into the ocean. My only choice is to confront my memories and my emotions.
Several months before my husband’s unexpected death, I felt a strong urge to gather old photos, mementos, letters, family newsletters, documents and other keepsakes from our life together. All of these items were in “safe” places but scattered throughout the house. I felt impressed that I should compile and digitize all 36+ years of marriage into one volume and document our life together. This could be easily shared with our numerous children and grandchildren. I sensed the urgency, but I certainly did not understand why. It soon became apparent why I needed to do this, but after my husband’s death I became evasive about family history. Words are inadequate to express how it feels – that feeling of adding your husband’s death date to the family tree.
I managed to organize the first 7 years of marriage prior to our traumatic loss, so I only have a mere thirty years to catch up on! Today I sit in my apartment on a rainy island in Alaska surrounded by bins full of the rest of “our life” story. It is somewhat easier to agonize over it now compared to what it was like 9 months ago. On one hand I am eager to dig in and come one step closer to the rest of my life! On the other hand, it is painful, sad and doggone depressing to be surrounded by baggies and albums full of “our life” together now that he is gone. I find that I cannot do it at the fast – let’s just get through it – pace I was hoping for. This is going to be a process, not a one-time occurrence. I have never been very good at process skills like dishes, laundry, and disciplining children. Sorting the memories of “our life” will take intestinal fortitude and several boxes of Kleenex, but I will get through it – it’s a process. My days will contain both rain and sunshine as I wade through the grief. I live here now; this is not an event scheduled on my vacation itinerary. I need to purchase a waterproof jacket and boots, learn to fish, and become revitalized as I sort through memories of our past together.
© 2015 to present Patricia J. Angus