“How Do You Do It?”

Late last night an old work friend messaged me with this comment, “Laura, you seem to be surviving well without Steve.  I still don’t feel like I’m surviving without _____.  How do you do it?”

At first I was a little upset as I took her question to mean that it looks like I don’t care that he’s gone and that I don’t need him.  But as I thought how best to respond to her I realized that my friend lost her husband almost four years ago and she still hasn’t found her footing in the new life without her husband.   That realization made me incredibly sad.  

In truth, I am doing well. It’s been seven months today that Steve died and I’m busy! I’m taking care of the house, although at the moment it needs some serious cleaning!  I’ve been sewing!! What can I say?  I’ve been sewing for the family, moving my house around a bit and spending time with my mom and kids when I can.  My finances are stable, I find time to read the Bible (and “shoot ‘em up” type books, Harry Potter and Miss Julia, too).  And, while sitting on the back porch, I have begun to make plans for the future. My future!

All of that aside, I miss Steve, my husband and best friend.  Every single minute of every single day I feel his absence.  I shared with my friend that I cry at least once a day and sometimes a memory will hit and I will cry all day. BUT…I don’t show that side of my life on FB or Instagram.  To share with the world how lonely it feels to sit in his chair watching one of our old shows, to want to pick up a project and, seeking his approval, say, “Hey, Babe!  It’s finished!” or to open the door after being gone all day and look at his chair only to find it empty, is a meaningless act.  People really don’t really want to hear it and I most certainly don’t want their pity.  That is unhelpful and meaningless, too!

I want to remind her that there is no ONE way to grieve nor is there a time limit on how long a person should grieve.  Grieving is an intensely personal act and I am not an expert on how it is to be done!  Most days will find me wading through those murky waters just trying to find some solid ground on which to tread.  Having a plan, albeit a flexible one, for the day or week has helped me to find that solid ground. I find that it is better for me to be productive, to have a project to work on…something to do each day…than it is to NOT have one!  When I’m productive I am less likely to focus on myself/my loss, therefore, I’m happier!  I also choose to look for joy in each day!  I admit that there have been days when I reallllly have to reach to find that one tiny scrap of joy!  But when I do find it my day is made so much better.

To be truthful, I don’t believe that I have any other choice but to move forward.  It would not be fair to myself, to my children or to my grandchildren to just give up and be sad all of the time.  What lesson would that teach them?  No, I need to show them that life does go on in spite of setbacks, sadness and tragedy!!  I need to be/want to be an example for them!  Crappy things happen in life but God does have a plan for us.  It is our responsibility to get up each morning, pull up our boot straps and continue to work His plan. 

I also want to make Steve proud of me!  Steve would hate it if I were miserable all of the time, if I stopped being creative, if I let my life end with his death. While in the hospital, he continually told people how strong I was, how grateful he was that I was there with him.  He bragged about my painting, our house, my new sewing gig, etc.  He was always proud of me.  Frankly, when it is my time to join him I don’t want to see him shaking his head or rolling his eyes in disappointment.  I want him to gaze at me with those sparkling, hazel eyes, smile and proudly say, “You did good!”

So…if you want to know how I’m really doing, just ask.  I’ll tell ya.  If you see me in photos on FB or Instagram you can assume that I’m doing well because, in spite of everything, I AM.

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