Ch.181 The Shape of My New Life Is Emerging
Something important has happened over the last two days: I can clearly see the outline of a new, highly satisfying life coming into shape. It consists of four parts:
- An active social life. Today I spent several hours just talking about meaningful events in our lives with two good friends, one of whom I’ve been seeing for years (AnneMarie) and another whom I’ve known but not well until today (Kathy). I already have more friends than I’ve ever had before in my life. Some of these friendships are from my married life and are with couples (Ed and Judy, for instance, friends for at least 30 years); some are “singles” from Azura (John, whose mother resided at Azura the same time Pat was there) or my Lewy Body community (Sue, whose husband died from Lewy Body) ; I’ve connected with others because of my membership in the Eleva-Strum Lions Club (Forrest and Jeannie). I’m realizing that I have a great desire for emotionally relevant conversation and that many others have that same need.
- Enjoyment of my time alone in the country. This morning I fed my horse Lakota and later set out some hay for him. Walking over to his hay bin, I called to him, and he enthusiastically neighed back. My cat Blackie laid on my lap while I read in bed. My dog Levi followed me around the rest of the morning, until I dropped him off at his day care center while I went into Eau Claire. I love my animals and am amazed that our four species have forged a good life together. I know the lifestyle we’ve created cannot continue forever; after all, I am 78 years of age and gradually (or, possibly suddenly, because of some illness or accident) there will come a time when I will be unable to manage my household duties and responsibilities. But right now, I can manage things just fine.
- Volunteer activities. I’ve begun my role as a volunteer “family-staff liaison” person at Azura, Pat’s memory care center. I may look for other volunteer engagements as well, much as my daughter Jenny has found several places where she can help people in ways that feel good to her. Volunteering offers a chance to do “meaningful” work but, frankly, I do it just as much because I like talking with the family members and learning more about the twenty individuals who shared their lives with Pat.
- Family. I have spent far more time with my children now than before Pat became ill. We contact each other at least once a week (in person or on the phone), often to discuss our shared grief but also just to enjoy each other. They are the people I send my colored pencil sketches to review, in lieu of being able to show them to Pat. My three brothers and their wives are also important to me; we connect regularly via Zoom and I know they are supporting my new journey.
I’m feeling alive as I write these thoughts. Excited. Energized. I also can guess what Pat would say about now: “I’m happy for you, honey; just don’t ever forget me.” And I won’t.