Costco-cartI have been absent from this blog for almost a month. It’s hard to believe that my grief hasn’t compelled me to come here and write, but things are changing quickly in my life and I’ve been very busy. I haven’t stopped grieving but things seem to be settling into an uneasy new “normal.”

I’m not mourning as much. I’ve learned that there’s grieving (which is how you feel about the loss on the inside) and mourning (which is how you express the pain of your loss outwardly). In the past few weeks I’ve noticed that my moments of mourning come less frequently and mostly in private now. I still have times when tears threaten (like today as I walked into The Home Depot alone) but I can generally talk myself down off the cliff. A month ago I couldn’t do that.

I’m finding more and more moments of joy. Sometimes I even have hours of joy. I feel more autonomous and am re-learning how to be “just me.” It’s a hard journey. I never wanted to be here again and had grown very accustomed to being half of a whole, even while John was sick and I was his sole caregiver and the main breadwinner. I got spoiled being in love with my best friend, always having someone there to cheer me on and bounce ideas off of. I’m almost having to learn to trust my own instincts and decisions again. But it’s happening, a little at a time.

I’m leaning more heavily on others than I ever have in my life. I’ve learned the value of asking for help (and graciously accepting it even when I don’t). New friends have become close friends very quickly and my ex-husband, his wife, and his mother have embraced me into their family and taken care of me on more than one occasion when I needed family and none of mine were available. I am blessed by the people in my life and I realize that more and more every day. John trusted that I’d be taken care of by them and they are doing a great job.

I am making big changes quickly, which is something the experts say I’m not supposed to do. But they feel right for me. The thing is, I still feel like John’s helping me make these decisions, like we’re making them together in a way because we talked at length about what would be best for me once he was gone. He told me he wanted me to move back to the Pacific Northwest where I have good friends and most of my family close by. We had talked about moving back there together before his disease progressed to the point that we knew he was terminal. So I feel like I’m making this move for both of us. Getting the house of my dreams and then living in it alone won’t be easy, but I’ll fill it with friends and family and make new memories on my own.

It’s been just under four months since John passed away. Some days it feels like much longer than that and others it feels like yesterday. My sense of “us-ness” is fading a little each day and I’m grieving that fact in addition to losing him. We were so great together and I miss who I was when I was with him almost as much as I miss him. I’m also noticing, the further from his death I get, the more I seem to “hear” him. Last weekend, during my Sweet Adelines regional competition, I had a moment when I was dancing with friends and I felt him there with me and heard him whisper in my ear, “YES! This is what I want for you. Grab this joy! You’re doing great!” It was a bittersweet moment because it’s exactly what he would say to me if he were standing in front of me actually talking to me in that moment. It also felt very right.

I want to move on and hold on, all at the same time. The more “normal” my life gets without him, the further away from him I feel. That’s a relief in one moment and sad the next. Regardless, I’m still “leaning into” all of my emotions and allowing myself to feel whatever each moment brings. I don’t feel guilty for being happy anymore like I did a few months ago.

So, all in all, I think I’m making progress. I did so much grieving in the months before John died that maybe I got a head start. I know it allowed me to actually grieve with him, crying on his shoulder every night when we went to bed, asking him how I’d possibly live without him, and hearing him say how sorry he was that he didn’t have an answer for me. I know I still have a long way to go. I’m learning more about myself and this “new normal” every day and I’m changing into my “new self” a little more every week.

I know this is what John wanted for me. I know he’s proud of me. All he ever wanted when he was alive was for me to be happy. That hasn’t changed now that he’s gone. And I’m a little happier every day. #lovetrumpscancer #livelikejohnny