Blinked: A widow at 37 with two young children to raise. My sole purpose became keeping life as stable as possible in the midst of turmoil.
Blinked: My oldest daughter graduated high school last month and is off to college this August.
Standing on the precipice of change yet again, it's dawning on me that my life can be anything I choose it to be without limits. No concerns about school districts or kid-friendly vacations. I loved it all--really enjoyed being with my kids every day--but it's time to let them go and embrace all of the new coming my way. Scared? Hell, no! I've navigated grief and gotten to the other side. And the best part? My kids were not fucked up beyond repair because life threw us a curve ball.
I didn't cry at graduation like I'd anticipated I'd do. I watched my daughter, who had suffered from crippling anxiety after my husband's traumatic death, walk across that stage and seize her diploma with a huge smile on her face. I laughed out loud. We did it! We came through it with some scars, yes, but the future looks brilliant.
Now, that being said, I fully expect to cry when I drop her off at her college dorm. Or maybe I won't. We'll see what happens, won't we?
People ask me what I'm going to do in a few years when my son also moves on to start his life. I've been criticized for making the kids and my career my sole focus these past nine years. Those same critics are the ones wondering what I'm going to do with myself "all alone in that house." Date, they say, as if that's so easy or even desirable. (I've been out there, people, and alone has its perks!)
What will I do? I don't know. I will work like I'm doing now, but I will be number one on my priority list again. Not just work, but me the woman. I used to be a social butterfly pre-marriage and pre-motherhood. I foresee joining social clubs for hiking or diving, traveling solo or with a friend, watching whatever I want on television at any given time, and basically doing whatever the hell I want to do when I want to do it.
There are moments when I think how nice it would be if Sean were still alive. I think of the date nights we could have or the trips we could take like we used to do. With college looming for the kids, I can imagine how proud he would be of their successes. He still crosses my mind almost every day, but that's okay. Those thoughts don't hold me back; instead, they inspire me to be the best I can be.
That house, people say to me as if the memories here are so nightmarish that a sane person would flee when given the chance. I have been in this house for sixteen years. My kids' hand prints are in the concrete in front of the fire pit out back. We have had many birthday parties here, one that even included a pinata hanging from the deck in mid-winter. Yes, my husband died here. Yes, there have been a lot of tears here. But don't all of those components create a home?
Looking at being alone--solo with no kids to keep me busy--I see only possibility. I look forward to seeing who Amber is again. Maybe I will sell this house and move to a condo on a beach somewhere, who knows? With my pack of dogs, I'm not sure that's logical, but we'll see what happens. The point is...I've survived a helluva lot and doubt anything will be as daunting as that, so why not embrace the idea of creating a wonderful new chapter in my life?
Wishing you all green lights ahead--
Next week on 'A Widow's World': Recreating Yourself
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