Today I am doing the tedious and left brained task of last years taxes. This is never any fun for me, but it needs to get done. As I am sorting through the many receipts it has been taking me back to the past year. I shed some tears at some, and others made me laugh. I remind myself to “keep walking, keep walking” through all of this. This helped me get thru the last year.
When I think about Jim’s death I sometimes am still shocked. But last night I forced myself to read my journals from before we split, what had been happening, up to about a year later. I was raw, emotionally exhausted. But even then I knew my powerlessness over his decision to drink. I worked through a lot of anger in that first year. Reading some entries brought me right back there, and I realize how far I have come, how much I have grown since. For me I saw our ending as his “leaving las vegas”. I really did. Conversations that we had, things he was doing, saying. I was very pleased to find an entry that he had told me “I do love you and I always will”. No matter where he is. And I have to believe that he is in a better place now. I have to believe that. I am finding some acceptance by believing that. The disease doesn’t have him anymore. He is finally free of the obsessions, the chaos, the immense aftermath he has left behind.
I am so grateful for the time we had together. I am grateful for what he brought into my life, taught me, gave me. I’m just really sad that his life ended the way it did, and the reason why it ended. And I’m crushed that I will never see him again. The finality of death is so cold. Yet for those “believers” and those with faith, I’m sure it isn’t the emotional turmoil that I feel. The disease doesn’t have him anymore. He is not crazy trying to live his life around the disease. His life is not in any disorder anymore, he is at peace.
My mom and I decided to plant wildflowers under my “tree of life”. When my ex husband and I moved in here back in 1988 we planted a small (5″ high) tree that came from the land we owned. Over the years I have watched that tree grow into the beautiful stately tree that it is. At times in my life when I am struggling I go and sit under that tree, meditating, praying, reflecting. The ashes of our furry kids that passed are buried/scattered around that tree. I sit sometimes and read quietly underneath it, or lay on the ground with Brody and look up at all the interwoven branches. The larger trunks for me signify relationships, the smaller ones anywhere from acquaintances to strangers whose life has crossed over into mine. This is MY tree of life. I have watched this tree survive cold long hard winters, and flourish in the spring and summer. Amongst all the storms it still stands, more beautiful than ever. It serves as an example to me of how I want to live my life, how I have lived my life. I have lived in this house over 22 years. I really have grown mature here. Sometimes of late and past I have wanted to sell it, to run from it, as there are so many memories that did not end happily. I remind myself that this does not take over nor invalidate all the good. Quite the contrary. It is those very memories that I cling to and think about to help me turn this pain into gratitude. And I will do it.
I feel so fortunate that I had worked through my anger at him the year after we parted. And that I involved myself largely with AlAnon, learned about the disease of alcoholism, addiction, and started to recover myself. The faces of alcoholism do not stop with the alcoholic. I have worked hard on myself, my wreckage, and yet there is so far to go. But then I remind myself, this is not a race, this is life. My life will play out as it is supposed to. All I can do is my very best, and I do that the majority of the time.
The purpose of the wildflowers under my tree of life is because Jim loved to garden. He loved his yard. He surprised me one year with wildflowers he had planted around our greenhouse. Some of those still come up today. Every year he would plant more wildflowers. He thoughtfully planted them where he did so that when I looked out the kitchen window that is what I would see. So wildflowers is what I have chosen to plant under my tree of life, in honor of his memory.
In a strange sort of way his death has helped me get HIM back. Critics (and those who have commented negatively about my sharing) may call this sick. But he isn’t self destructing anymore. I am grateful for this. So in a strange sort of way, the chaos the rollercoaster has stopped, I no longer have to detach from his actions. I can just simply be one with my memories and find some peace in knowing he is okay.
Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. This I have learned. I can only do my very best. As a person who strives to grow, to be the best person I can be, to learn from my experiences, I have learned that some you just have to walk through. That the lessons are unknown, the strength that you dig for to get you through turns into faith, and while your heart is battered and hurting, your self confidence in knowing your own strength rises.
Today I am grateful for my life, for my lessons, for my losses even, as they serve to remind me of all that I have been fortunate to have in my life, and all that is really important to me today. It isn’t about material things. It isn’t about suffering or feeling only happiness. It is about being able to get through whatever is put in front of you by doing your very best. Today I am doing my very best. When I lay my head on my pillow tonight I will celebrate this day and look forward to another.
Today is the first day, of the rest of my life. The players have changed, and even the scenery, but the birds are still chirping, the sun still sets and rises… my life must go on. I take with me on this journey however short or long, a lifetime of love, wonderful memories and valuable lessons.