“We’re having salmon for dinner,” I announced, and turned to face my husband. Only he was not there. John died months ago and there was no longer a “we.” Now it was just me. After 63 years of marriage, adapting to life without John is difficult. Though I cared for him until he died and made the final arrangements, I still struggle with disbelief. What should I do with the rest of my life?
I asked myself this question many times. My considerations included my mission, hobbies, learning, and enrichment. When there was a “we” my mission was to write books to help people. Now I have the same mission with one change. I continue to write books to help people but take more chances than I did before. In short, I’m going for it.
Ideas come to me around 3:30 a.m. and I literally write in my sleep. After I have written a few paragraphs I wake up and transfer the words to a computer file. My recent books have been about grief, a subject I know all too well. You see, I am a bereaved wife, mother, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, cousin, and friend.
Long ago, I learned that giving helps to heal grief. John was a generous person. In his memory, I continue to support worthy organizations, my church, and am a community volunteer. When asked, I mentor fledgling writers. I also give free talks and workshops on a variety of topics. Giving makes me feel good inside.
Art has always been a big part of my life. Being a family caregiver for 23 years cramped my art activities. In the past, I made mosaic flowerpots, did contour drawings, and created woodcuts. These were recreational activities. At the end of John’s life, I searched for calming art activities. This led me to art doodling and Japanese enso painting. Enso means circle in Japanese. Creating an enso involves meditation and painting a circle with one brushstroke. I really enjoyed it.
But I have been so busy tending to post-death tasks that enso painting and art doodling fell by the wayside. Now I am ready to get back to them. I bought a round table and put it in the center of John’s bedroom. This is now my art room, a decision that turns a place of sadness into a place of joy. I know John would have approved of this decision.
I love to read but caring for three generations of family members put a crimp on reading. Now I have the time to read and am tackling the stack of books by the couch. Slowly, the pieces of my life are coming together. When I add them up—reading, artwork, volunteering, and writing—the elements of a meaningful life are there. Pain and thought and resolve have brought these pieces together.
What could your new life be? You have the power to make it what you want. You have the power to make dreams into reality. You have the power to live a meaningful life in memory of your loved one. Go for it!