Monday, January 14, 2013
Seems like there is almost always some new revelation or event that sparks a Monday post idea for me. This time, Sunday night snuck up on me and I realized I didn't have anything that seemed to want to be written.
Then, I was making dinner when I realized I was out of lemons for squeezing over steamed asparagus and broccoli. Trying to improvise, I mentally scanned the contents of the kitchen for something that would work for the tangy part of the dressing. Suddenly, I remembered a dressing I'd make all the time before Dave died and happily pulled out the ingredients and began to whisk them together. As I stood there, tasting it to check for the proper ratio of flavors, I realized this was the first time I'd even thought of this stuff, much less made it since Dave died. I used to make it all the time. It wasn't a favorite of Dave's, so it's not as though I just hadn't had him here to remind me. It was one of many recipes I made for me alone because I liked it. Somehow it got stuck in that life and didn't make it over into the new life until that moment, almost 19 months later.
And it got me thinking. How many other parts of that life are just left behind that I don't even know are gone? What else is missing?
I've lost so much, and to think of what's been left behind causes panic to hover just nearby. How much has fallen through the cracks? Inside jokes, favorite meals, facial expressions that translated into complete sentences, a whole new language born of our relationship of 15 years, moments we had together? All are in danger of slipping away forever to be stuck in that old life. They might be gone forever. They might come back (like my dressing recipe). I don't know. Not knowing is scary and losing what little I have left of that old life feels like another tragedy.
So, to counteract the sucking power of grief, I did a little self coaching out loud to make it really sink in and told myself that it's okay that some things were left behind because nothing stays the same and starting over doesn't have to be all about loss. There are many good things, and not just recipes, that I've incorporated in my second life. I may have lost both the irreplaceable and the relatively unimportant in this explosion, but I've picked up what I could from the remains and added to it.
I've added even healthier eating habits. Dave was never really comfortable going as healthy as I wanted when it came to our pantry and refrigerator. I shed an emotionally stressful job for the opportunity to pursue zoology. I picked up crossfit, Bar Method and hot yoga, and ran a 5K. I started a blog or two and I've traveled. I've made new friends I can't imagine not knowing now.
As much as I want to cling to those little bits of my previous life, the more I do, the less I'm able to let the new in. I don't want to spend so much time looking back and trying to preserve the details of a life I had to part with that I miss out on now.
So, it's being grateful for those pieces of the old life that can work their way into this new one. It's being thankful for having that old life at all. It's making room for my new life to unfold and bring with it the newness, the unknown. It's getting the chance to run everything that comes my way through a new filter: Do I alone think that will enhance my life or diminish it?
I have the bittersweet opportunity to be selfish and single-minded. When the focus is entirely on my needs and development, I get to sculpt my second chance as much as humanly possible. Of course, this is no easy task, but it's my second chance and I don't want to squander it trying to make that old life work when it's missing its center. I'm the center, now.