“A person can have the temporary approval of his friends or he
can have his own life, but he cannot have both.”
After Bob died, I vowed to move as deeply as possible into my own life. He had been my mainstay and ballast. An honorable man, he sheltered me from many things, but nothing can shelter one from him or herself. Deep down, I always knew that.
My teacher had taught self-reliance as a core principle and now I returned to it full-time. I began to care for myself with respect and attention. What I discovered was mind-boggling. I had never needed to lean on Bob, as willing as he was. I just “thought” I did. My thoughts were neatly packaged into categories and Bob was one of them. “He can gas up the car; he can take care of the income tax, etc.” Now I am doing everything he did and the world hasn’t come to an end.
What he couldn’t take care of was my own emotional baggage. Now I felt like I was unpacking suitcase after suitcase of stuff that no longer belonged to me. It was all jumbled up, too; like your clothes after a week’s vacation. Everything just randomly pressed together and needing to be cleaned. I began to see things that no longer worked. It was like I had been going places and doing things that were of no interest to me. So I simplified my inner life. I spent lots of time just looking into the window of my mind. And the more I looked, the less I saw. Emptiness began to matter more than fullness. I treasured my morning meditations. In the brown recliner I bought for myself shortly after he died, I would sit gently with myself. My breath was my own, after all, as was my life.
His illness began to recede into the distance as I moved his clothes from the closet and began my new life. At first I was frugal to the point of being ridiculous. I didn’t know how money I would have. Then I realized it was the little things that I enjoyed. A box of bath powder, a scented candle, a book that made me laugh. And so the big things became about self-care. I was giving myself time to just live on this earth.
No was my favorite word for a long time. Grief requires a severe pruning back of activity so the soul can bloom again. I sought solace within and not from without. I wrote a lot and realized this was to be my path. Words piled up like snow on a winter night but they warmed me in a significant way. Now I wanted to warm others from the reflected light.
My new website is where the words will be read and hopefully another book will arise one page at a time. Bob is loving me from the only possible place he ever could—from within my heart. I was having my own life returned to me in the form of self-love and my husband will forever be a part of that. I was learning to have my own life.