Ch.203 Feeling “Normal” Feels Great

Ch.203 Feeling “Normal” Feels Great

          May 2023

          I have just returned from my first airplane travel trip in over four years. I spent eight days in London Ontario, Buffalo NY, and Toronto with my twin brother Don. I also saw Randa, Don’s wife; my brother Art and wife Ruth; Randa’s children and grandchildren; and Don’s daughter Sarah and her husband Sebastian and son Cedric.

          The trip went well. I did have a couple sudden crying episodes, once when Matt, Randa’s son in law, asked what I’ve been doing lately. “Grieving,” was what I immediately thought, and unbidden tears followed. But I stayed in the moment most of the time, and near the end of the trip I told Don that I was feeling “normal.” I think “normal” meant “not lonely” but also “whole.”

          A big part of feeling normal was spending time with Don. We are identical twins and over the years “identical” has referred to far more than looking alike. We have always walked at the same pace, worked at the same type of job (social work), cared equally and deeply for the people we love, held similar political views, and found purpose in life in our relationships with others. Spending this time together helped me feel connected and bonded again, helped me feel whole in a way I haven’t since Pat died. I felt safe.

          I thought this warm feeling might disappear as soon as I got back home to my widower lifestyle. But so far it has not vanished. Partly that’s because my daughter Jenny picked me up at the shuttle, reminding me that I am loved by her and my other children; and, because I was greeted when I got home by my wonderful collie Levi and by Blackie the cat; and because I had lunch the next day with friends happy to see me again; and because I spent an hour at Azura, Pat’s memory care center, putting together the outer frame of a puzzle with Kathy, one of the long-term residents there; and because I facilitated a memory loss group yesterday afternoon, helping other caregivers and people with memory loss deal with their issues.           Yes, there is a great void in my life that will never be filled. But, paradoxically, perhaps I can still feel whole instead of empty by taking in the opportunities I have to do meaningful things and by feeling the caring and love I give and receive. If that is what “normal” means, I will gladly accept feeling that way.