My plan has been paying dividends. We are immersed in the Christmas season. And I have to say, it has been merry. If you’ve been reading long, you know that last year we got the heck out of Dodge and went to the other side of the world. I couldn’t bear the thought of six weeks of weepy looks, sad glances, and sympathetic mutterings as we navigated the holidays without Kristi for the first time. So we celebrated as a family, making new memories and putting a positive end on 2013 and great start to 2014.
This fall, with the children in a new school, the holidays have been exactly that: time off from school. They’ve enjoyed the breaks like never before. Being absent last year, we’ve all been eager to bust out the Christmas decorations and fix the house up pretty. I’ll admit, I’ve always been into Christmas…even more than Kristi. So, it was with great enthusiasm I untangled strings of lights and began draping garland around the house. And the plan…well, each and every day since November 23rd (the day we left in 2013) we’ve been talking about where we were last year at this time.
“Hey remember the glow worm cave?”
“Yeah! And what about that Archer fish? That was SO cool when it shot that cracker off the rope with a jet of water!”
“Today we were in Hobbiton! I wanna go back!”
And so forth. We’ve been reliving our tour through New Zealand and Australia this year. What a gift! Life is good. We are doing well.
And yet, its there. Even as the vise-like grip of immediate grief has softened over the last year and a half, the underlying reality of loss is always company. Just last week I actually waved at an oncoming car as I thought Kristi was driving. It was a reaction I hadn’t anticipated. A Honda Element, just like ours, was approaching with a slight, blond woman driving. My hand was up and waving before my brain had processed that it couldn’t be. I wasn’t derailed in despair or sobbing for the rest of the day. My throat simply constricted and I had to blink a few times. Yep, we’ve had a great loss.
Every time I stand at the stove, or shop for groceries or tuck the children to bed or go for a run, bike or swim, I realize its there. Its become kind of like the air. Most of the time you don’t think about it, but loss is always there. Actually, to be truthful, it comes to mind more than the air does. I don’t dwell on it but it consistently hangs around.
But, that’s OK. You can’t lose something as precious as life and love and have it just disappear as though it never was. So I keep moving forward. Little goals, daily steps to keep living life, to live fit, faithful and fulfilled. That’s what Kristi would have wanted. Its what the children need. Its what I need.
And so in this season, I’ve chosen to be merry. To celebrate with the children. Happiness is a choice, so is contentment. Do I wish Kristi was here to complete the family, to enjoy the season?
Every. Single. Day.
But I choose to live on, in spite of loss. I choose to honor the love and life that Kristi lived and embrace the merry moments, knowing that each day there will be other moments. Moments that make breathing difficult and blur the vision. But if there were no grief, I would question if there’d ever been love. So grief reminds me of love. Love that lives on in our family. And when I see their smiles and laughter, I choose to be merry.
Its also time to give back. Its time for me to help other men who find themselves in a similar situation. Check out the Facebook page (and like it please!), and I’m changing my blog around. I’ve begun writing to bring hope and encouragement to other widowers that they too can not only survive, but keep moving forward in life and live fit, faithful and fulfilled.
Fit: Endurance training for triathlon has helped me stay healthy, move forward and set and achieve goals and handle the myriad of responsibilities being a single parent brings. Other widowers need to be encouraged to take up some form of endurance training. (whether swim, bike, run, obstacle races or triathlon) I’ve never been in better shape and the long swims, runs and rides are cathartic on so many levels.
Faithful: Being physically fit and trained only gets you so far in dealing with life and grief. Moving forward with a real, consequential relationship with God is crucial to handling life and keeping your focus from being myopically centered on yourself.
Fulfilled: Its tempting, when you lose your wife, to just not care any more. Its tempting to withdraw and become hardened. But life is still worth living. Living Fit and Faithful will lead toward a life of Fulfillment, even though the future is going to be much different than I ever imagined.
So, here it is, Fit For A Widower. What it will ultimately become, I’m not sure. I just know that its time to jump off the dock and start swimming. There’s one of those endurance analogies creeping in again. Well, life and love are endurance sports. Might as well train to succeed in them…
Every. Single. Day.