What does the picture of your life look like?
We all have a picture of our life as we see it. Not how others see our life, but how we see it. Certain parts are a bigger part of the picture. The biggest roles in my life were wife, mother, and teacher. I have a definite “before” and “after” in my life. Before the accident, the picture I saw of my life was vibrant, layered, textured. After, in the beginning of my grief, my life picture was dark, simple, flat. To me, my life was defined by the tragedy of being a young widow. I felt as though I had to greet people by saying, “Hi, my name’s Sandra, and I’m a widow.” I felt that if I didn’t address it, they would think I was lying, trying to disguise the weariness of my grieving heart. I wore the title of widow like a scarlet letter.
I stood still. Pulled back from life. Spending minutes, hours doing nothing but existing. Life kept moving though. Life does not let the widow grieve the way a widow must, in her own time. I remember opening up a letter from my employer with the date of Glens death on the top. I opened it to read their condolences and that while I’m figuring out how the hell to live without him, walk, and shower by myself, I need to provide them with a death certificate to have him taken off my healthcare and rename beneficiaries. I’m no professional on etiquette, but I believe the first thing that should have come was just a letter expressing their condolences. No business, no things I needed to do, just an expression of sympathy in a difficult situation. Then maybe a second letter, not dated the day of his passing could request those business items. But we are a business world. No time for grief, #2007022. We need a death certificate, we need proof you are disabled, we need to know why you are only doing therapies 3 times a week, we need, we need, we need…what about all of the things I may need?
But life just keeps going faster and faster and at some point I had to join back in or be left behind. With the passing of time, the weariness and grief begin to lift. There is a point when you have to accept that the tragedy is now a fact of your life. The acceptance does not make life easier. It does not take away the fact that this trauma occurred, but the pressure begins to ease.
Adversity, despair, tragedy shatters life as you know it. On November 5th, 2011, mine was shattered. I have been placed in a position to decide whether or not I want to pick up the pieces. Pick up the pieces of the reality of the tragedy and begin their restoration, not just acknowledge them and move on. The pieces of this enormous tragedy are jumbled among the other pieces of my life. I have stared at them for a long while. Stared at them without a clue of how they could possibly fit back together and with no intention of trying to do so. They sat in piles in the corner of my mind and life as a constant reminder of the mess that had been made. A mess I did not want to own or work through or figure out. I just wanted to sleep and wake up to a world where all the pieces fit together.
One day, I could not ignore the pieces any longer. I began to pick them up, sometimes willingly, sometimes because I simply had no other choice. For a while, I just sorted them, stared at them with absolutely no idea how they belonged to each other and set them aside. Eventually, I began to attempt their reconstruction, to piece them together without knowing how they would fit together.
As I began to put them together, I was reminded that they were vibrant, textured, and layered, that my life was still vibrant, textured, and layered. When I have felt strong enough, I have continued to piece them together without instructions, or a picture to follow. I am placing pieces where I feel they will be given strength and love. When I hold the recreation of my life up to the sun, light peeks through. I am reminded that there are pieces missing, sitting in piles I have not yet sorted, pieces with broken edges, edges made jagged from life’s trials. Much like my thoughts, the pieces are disjointed, unable to find a comfortable place to rest. Through these disjointed and imperfect pieces, though, there is light. The light which breathes and pulses with the possibilities of moving forward. I may not have a picture to go by, my picture may never look the way I thought it would, but as I continue to work, the pieces are beginning to form a beautiful new picture, a beautiful new life.