It's been seven years (and two months, today) since death ended my husband's brief life and left me with this leftover life to live. No, no, this isn't going to be maudlin, morose or a study in "poor little me." I'm over all of that, and, thanks to my wonderful sons and their loving families, I have a life worth living -- but -- it isn't the life I thought I would have, and it's not always enough.
When you've been fortunate enough to find the one person you expect to share your future with, and you've built dreams upon dreams and made specific plans to carry you through the years, even into eventual retirement and old age, it's disorienting and disconcerting to find the door to that future unexpectedly and irrevocably shut and locked.
In a very real way, death doesn't just claim one of you. While the person left behind may not lose their physical life, they certainly lose the reality of their way of life. Nothing remains the same that the two of you held in common. After awhile, you find you're not even close to the same person you were in the marriage.... you've lost even the "you" of that time.
I chose to move to another area, closer to my sons and very far away from all the memories of those marriage years. The change in environment was necessary (for my sanity, I think), but it also created a chasm between the past and present that adds to the disorientation. Except for my sons, I share no memories with anyone, i experience no continuity with the major portion of my life.
In leaving that area I left nearly every friend, every association, every connection that I'd had for 30 years. In my lifetime death has claimed so many friends and relatives that "goodbye" is second nature to me, so those farewells weren't unbearable, but all except two seem final, except for the reciprocal Christmas cards. What's odd is that, excepting one dear internet friend, I've been unable to make any new connections here -- not one. I find that very odd indeed.
There have been several books written recently about "the secret" of attracting to your life those things/people/events/rewards that you want through the power of positive thought. Wendi Friesen, Hypnotist, calls this "manifesting" and teaches seminars on the subject, with amazing results. This was also one of the more intriguing premises of Jonathan Livingston Seagull's baby brother, "Illusions," also by Richard Bach. Focus on what you want - very specifically - believe it is yours, and it will be yours in time.... guaranteed.
It sounds very new-agey, conjuring up all the cliches of that era ("Hey baby, what's your sign?"), but the concept isn't just the purview of bad writers, pop psychologists and TV pitch men. Ask anyone who has sincerely tried it... it works, and it works nearly every time.
I can't think of one thing I've wanted in my life... not one...that I haven't attained, if, and here's the catch, I've focused on the result I wanted. (Well, okay, I don't have great legs, but genetics plays a part in that.)
Believe it or not, I even conjured my husband by focusing on a specific birthday I demanded that the man of my dreams have (March 24th). It took a few years, but he appeared as ordered, and we were together from the day we met. (Thanks, Patti!)
It's very basic -- to the extent that you define your desire in great specificity, then channel your drive to attain it, attain it you will. It isn't magic and there really is no "secret." Since everything you are and think and do becomes about achieving what you want, of course you realize that dream. You may think when the dream comes true that it is a fluke, a coincidence, even a miracle... but it is simply the result of your focus and force of will.
What has all that to do with my husband death's and this strange, reclusive life I lead?
It's simple. Until his death, all of my dreams and hopes were focused on our marriage and our future together. Even though it's been seven years, I've been unable to envision any new life. Hundreds of options have danced through my mind, sort of like "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Not one answer has seemed desirable... not one. So, here I sit, day after day, working at my minimal business, sharing shards of my sons' lives, but living in a vacuum of possibility through a failure of vision.
I'm egotistical and realistic enough to know I could achieve anything I wanted... I have in the past... I have a solid, and sometimes amazing, track record of achievement. My failure to move on since my husband's death isn't a failure of achievement -- it's a failure of imagination.
There may be a small caveat to all of this. When I moved here I sought, above all, peace and respite from the trauma of the three years of my husband's illness. I do have a real haven of peace and quiet and solitude in my little hermitage, so in a sense that dream was realized. I sought financial independence, just enough to not be hassled by having to pinch pennies, and I have that. I sought a strengthening of relationships with my sons' families, and that has been wonderful. I wanted to get in shape and become healthier, and that I've done.
The few things I was brave enough to want and which results were clear enough to see, I have achieved.
I wish, though, that there would be more substance, more creativity, more meaning to these years I'm now facing alone. I can't envision what form those qualities should take, however... and I don't know where to begin to construct that vision.