One day, after a week of this, he was in the desert working longer than usual and I did not receive a call. I didn’t know that cell service was not reliable from that location and his call did not make it through.
Mildly concerned, I called his cell at 4 PM with no answer. Then again at 5 PM. Then at 6 PM, 7 PM. You get the picture. (!!!)
By 9 PM I was Possessed and Crazed and quite sure that something had happened. Death by rattlesnake I figured, or sunburn.
I tried to employ my brain’s executive functions.
9 PM East Coast was 6 PM West Coast. 6 PM is not late. He is fine. You are being silly. He will call in a little while.
And yet, my anxiety continued.
I called my sister in Connecticut, looking for a calming influence. She said smart things like, “he is probably out of cell range”, and “did you both agree that he would call?” and “isn’t he with a partner?”. Yes it was true, cell connection was tentative in the desert. No, we had no such understanding. And yes, I was pretty sure he was not alone.
She suggested that I go to sleep and call the state police the next morning if I had still not heard from him. This suggestion comforted me enough that I finally went to bed.
Two hours later he called, high from a geological discovery. I shared a little of my anxiety with him, too groggy to go into detail. We said good night and I slept soundly.
As many widows have done, I watched my husband take his last breath in a cold, noisy and impersonal intensive care unit. I was alone. No matter how well I am doing in my life, when my daughter comes home later than expected, or someone I care about is not where I expect him or her to be when I expect them to be there, I get anxious. Still, 8 years later, the possibility of loss seems just around the corner.
I know that this is not logical. I am smart and have two degrees to prove it. (???) But my brain, the brain that watched Mike die, fails me and I become irrationally concerned.
I am sure that gradually, I will grow out of this habit of thinking the worst. But I have learned that really bad things really do happen so it will probably take some time.
In the meantime, I have grownups in my life who are reasonable and can gently remind me that death by rattle snake or sunburn are quite unlikely.
Mie Elmhirst Widows Breathe Coaching