Wednesday, October 12, 2011
A sense of wholeness
I was sitting with an afternoon cup of tea today, idly more or less reading a book of essays by Anna Quindlen, and watching the mourning dove sitting peacefully on the cherry tree branch a few feet away from me outside, and suddenly realized that a sense of wholeness is coming back to me.
It's partly about a lovely October sky, varying shades of soft grey, a true watercolor, and the start of changes in the leaves
though ours are usually quite muted, no brilliant Wisconsin foliage here
partly about the softness of the air and the boldness of the chickadees shouting and eating, and the smell of newly baked food in the kitchen.
and about the late flowers in neighboring gardens
and noticing how on one rosebush there's a new bud, a flower in full bloom and a dying flower. Life in fast forward.
and the red peppers in the garden of the little boy down the street.
But it was also about remembering my life from years ago, before I had to give up being single with my own household, because HPs needs overrode everything for both of us. He no more wanted to share a roof than I did, both being very happy as a couple with large areas of privacy, to the extent of traveling back and forth to each other's homes for years. But we both recognized, nine years ago, that he could no longer manage without constant help. And that started the trajectory for both of us until it ended in August this year.
I'm rediscovering the pleasure of pleasing only me when I cook or go for a walk, or decide to go to a recorder society meeting, or entertain a friend. It's not that he was an obstacle, but rather that the simple presence of another person makes a difference to every move. He wanted very much for me to have a life, even when his nursing needs became more and more pressing, and was joyful when I got an evening out and told him about it when I got home. And yet there's a freedom in singleness that the single understand.
But the other side of it is that there are a lot of firsts: last night was the first time I went to the recorder society without him to come home to. This will be the first Halloween without him. Actually that's a good thing, since I truly hate what people do with Halloween, and will firmly leave the lights out and the door shut this year, honoring my own wishes after years of catering to HPs pleasure in giving candy to kids and seeing their outfits. It's not a carnival, it's a solemn quiet, thoughtful religious time, when we honor the souls of the dead the day before we praise the saved. This year particularly I would like to honor the dead quietly.
And there will be more occasions, like the first birthday unobserved by him in nearly fifty years. There's a reason people say you need a full calendar year to know what you're doing -- we do use the calendar for so many symbolic reasons, that it takes that rebuilding time.
But for the moment, it's just fine. The balance is coming down heavily on the side of joy.