Every morning when I wake up and turn toward Jim's side of the bed to only a smooth pillow I know its true. Jim is gone.
I ask other widows how long I will open my eyes when I wake up thinking of Jim or reach out for him to empty air. The answer is usually a long silence and then a sigh, "it depends" some say but the honest women just look at me and tell the truth, "don't worry about it - some days are better than others."
That waking up moment is hard. It can color the rest of the day if you linger in the haze of memory or the sadness of the missing. I am best off when I get my feet on the floor, open the blinds and move.
Jim's aunt, a long time widow, wrote to me shortly after Jim died with sound advice, "keep busy."
But I find that more than that I need to have structure in my days.
Jim and I were married almost 57 years and for those years his schedule was the primary scaffolding for my day. We were married in his third year of medical school and his long-hours days never waivered for his entire career as a physician. He was up and out very early every morning and home around 7pm or later. Most of those years I scheduled myself and our family around him. Until the last five years when our schedules ran together. We both scheduled around Jim's doctors appointments or he also entered any of my activities in his appointment book as he planned around my work schedule.
I find that these days the toughest moments of my day are the late afternoon when I would be thinking about supper or listening for his car in the driveway. Its like my body is trained to expect Jim's coming. Now I know how much the little nuances of the day kept me on track. Especially after Jim moved his Practice to his office downstairs when much activity in the house was effected by whether patients were expected.
This is not particular to me. Someone told me about a group of widowed women who meet every afternoon at 5PM for a coffee or wine rather than face the setting sun alone.
That's not an option for me but I do have to develop a new structure for my days.
That's all about choices - and determining priorities. Now there is a tough one. Things that were important to me a year ago now seem meaningless so I have to choose wisely - not just fill my hours randomly.
That's why I felt very fortunate to start the Memoir Class this week and have the teacher assign writing a mission statement for your life as our homework.
I will see where this goes because I surely need a road map for my life right now.