I’m convinced that Rusty is, in fact, telepathic. Or perhaps more accurately, an empath. In this last month, I’ve given him lots of opportunities to showcase his skills.
It’s been a rough month. In a few days, it will be the one-year anniversary of Mark’s death. As the date approaches, I’ve ground to a halt. I’m aimless, with no energy or ambition. Fuzzy head, mangled thoughts. I’m remembering Mark’s last month, a year ago, when his suffering was so intense. He battled so hard. To the end, until the day he lost consciousness, he struggled to stay here, with me, with our son, with his friends and family and the life he had made. “I love you” were the last words he said to me.
Hospice has again contacted me, since this is predictably painful time. A woman left me a voice mail, obviously reading from a prepared script, and pausing to insert the personal information:
“We are thinking of you (pause)…Stephanie…as as the one year anniversary of your loss of (pause)…your husband, Mark…arrives.”
So it was a canned message, but I didn’t mind. Hospice has been helpful. For me, it’s been a year like no other, but at the same time, I’ve become acutely aware of all the losses suffered by all the people around me. The experience of loss and grief is everywhere. But I still ache for Mark. Even now, at odd times, I forget for an instant that he’s gone.
I’ve learned a lot about grief. Yes, Hospice has helped, but more helpful is the unflagging support I’ve had from family and friends. I don’t think I’ve thanked them all enough. I can’t imagine traveling this path alone, as some must. Physical exercise helps me to manage the grief. A day hiking in the mountains with Rusty is great medicine. I guess it’s all those endorphins. And of course there’s Rusty himself, the enormous red poodle who follows me like a shadow and who hovers by my side, licking my wrist or my knee, pushing his head under my hand, whenever the weight of this journey is too heavy for me. He’s right there, and he knows what to do.
I’ve been thinking about the year to come. I want to turn my focus forward, not trying to discard my grief or leave my memories behind, but reminding myself that I have to think about the future too. So, I’ve come up with a project for myself this next year: “Widowhood 102: A Year of New.”
I’ve decided to commit that, once a week, I will do something that I’ve never done before. It could be meaningful, silly, small or important. My only two rules: It has to be something new (to me) and it has to be intentional. (Accidental adventures are often wonderful, but they aren’t going to count.) Will it help me? We’ll see. But thinking about it makes me feel a little more cheerful.
This will be my last "Widowhood 101" blog. My blog “Widowhood 102: The Year of New” will start in early June.
In the meantime, I heartily recommend that if you don’t have a dog, go get one.