- In the aftermath of my wife's death last November, I'm doing really well. I'm moving forward with my life, beginning to enjoy it in the way she always said she wanted me to after she was gone.
- I put my wedding ring back on yesterday (right hand), after 4 months of leaving it in a bag with hers.
The former has been a long time coming. It was always obvious that, while I was taking care of Lauren as cystic fibrosis slowly robbed her of life, nearly all of my energy, time, and love were directed toward her. I visited her in the hospital pretty much every day while she was admitted, and life pretty much consisted of work, hospital, sleep, do it again.
After she passed away, I found myself with a lot of extra energy, time, and love that no longer had a target. I directed much of it toward my church, getting even more involved in the music ministry and attending more services and Bible studies than I had in a long time. I even played an offertory on the piano one Sunday morning less than 3 weeks after she died. In addition, I began spending more time with friends I hadn't seen regularly in a while, and I started meeting new people (a huge undertaking, given how introverted I am).
While it was good for me to get out, and I was glad to have all those opportunities, for the most part I wasn't genuinely excited by any of it. The support from friends old and new was great, and I did have a deepening peace and even joy in Christ throughout the experience, but there was a large part of me that was afraid of enjoying my newfound freedom. It felt like allowing myself to be happy would mean finding pleasure in the fact that my wife was no longer around. In January I decided to stop wearing my ring; it seemed appropriate, as at that point I had dealt with my grief in important and substantial ways, but as I look back I see that I was trying to distance myself emotionally from the perceived betrayal of Lauren's memory. In essence I was trying to become a new man, disavowing encumbrances of the past and trying to force myself to move on with my life.
Much has happened since then. The two most important events, the Writer's Conference and the celebration of Lauren's birthday, were previously chronicled here on my blog. And in the course of everything that has transpired I've felt myself actually changing: not because I've forced myself to, or even out of any desire to make my life different, but because that's what moving forward is all about. I've been able to truly enjoy my life as it now is, and find a way to keep Lauren's memory alive without either clinging to it or pushing it away.
In a sense, Fact #2 above seems a bit like a step back. But it's not! As I put my ring back on yesterday morning, I did so with a view toward fully accepting the realities of both the past and the present. I have become someone new; not because of anything I did, but because God has loved and sustained me through it all—in many ways, through the support of family and friends who have been there for me through the past months.
I don't feel like I've "gotten over" anything, or that I'm "finally done" with some process; of course, life will continue to have challenges both related and unrelated to my widowerhood. But I'm realizing that life has generally become a lot brighter, and I'm glad to have gotten where I now am.