Our Story Begins:
There’s an old Robert Cray song I recently rediscovered called Bouncin’ Back and it’s really hit home for me.
“Her name came up today . . .
To my surprise.
My eyes wanted to, but I didn’t cry.
I pictured our good times
And I almost had a laugh
I’m finally bouncin’ back.”
Laughing is a big thing. In the first days after you lose someone – I don’t care if it’s your wife, husband, child, Mom or Dad – everything affects you. Smells, sights, sounds, all those things spark the synapses in your brain. The memories will fire. The smell of Pinor Noir takes you back to being 21 on a dating misadventure in Yountville, CA. If you’d talked to me in March, April . . . hell, even October of 2011, I’d have told you we were fine but I still couldn’t talk about my wife.
If you’d talked to me last year I would have told you I couldn’t see that getting better. I couldn’t move, breathe or talk without life relating back to her. To be fair, some people never get better. It’s funny, people call it sinking into darkness but I prefer to think of it as a kind of grey haze. Nothing is in focus. My life was on-track. We had two incomes, a house, a job, and a career path. I was looking forward to those years when the house emptied because we’d spend time together again. I wanted to see the world, go to London, Cairo, even the Mayan pyramids.
Then on March 26th, 2011, those plans evaporated into the gray haze. In those first days even little things troubled me. I even had to remind myself to eat. Due to the fact we lost our home and I was losing a good chunk of my salary in the weeks after losing Andrea I had to try and emerge from the haze. I did it because I had family to help and four kids who were wandering lost in the mist and needed a guide who at least acted like he knew what he was doing. I was able to do it because of all the help I had.
Last week I took her name off my mailbox.
Threw out some shoes and clothes she left behind.
I even took her picture off my dresser. I believe these are very good signs.
Again . . . by coincidence, I’d done all the things in the song. I took Andrea’s name off our email. I threw out some old shoes and donated a couple dresses to Goodwill. As the Strong Persuader himself says . . . I’ve been away too long, way off track, and I’m finally bouncin’ back.
It’s funny because people approach me during this holiday season and say: “It must be so hard for you this time of year.”
Hard…not impossible. As we put up the decorations, the tree and the garland I’ve noticed that the appeal to living in the past isn’t there. A year ago I would sit and let the grief – that hazy, disorienting swimming feeling – envelop me. It’s easy to do, too, that immersion. It’s almost rapturous to let the mist take you down and chill you to the marrow of your bones. You can feel the tears stream down your face and revel in the salty drops as they hit your mouth and you don’t wipe them off because you start to feel sorry for yourself and look to the heavens asking, “Why?”
But this year is different. When a set of ornaments with words like Hope, Love, Blessing, and Wish come out of the box, my son says “I think I’ll wish for Mom to come back.” That could be a show-stopper. Instead, I look at him and simply say “let’s think about wishing for something we know we can make come true.“ My son looked at me and said “yeah, you’re right,” and that was the end of it.
Our world is different. If Andrea came back today she’d find a different home, different husband and different kids. Much of it she wouldn’t be happy to see, but that makes no difference. We did what we had to in order to get by. As the song says: I can see myself again giving love just one more chance…I can see that silver lining, I see it now at last, I’m finally bouncin’ back.
So what about you? Does the past or tragedy pull you too far into the past? Are you willing to move forward and roll with the changes? Do you give in to the mist or power through it?