Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My "After" ......

...... Part 2.

I arrived in NYC today ....... for the first time since taking my youngest child to college.
This was the day I've been waiting for ...... for about a year now.  It didn't totally look like I saw it happening in my head a year ago.  But that's because I have 2 of my daughters living here with me.
I did NOT see that happening.
At all.

Fortunately, for all 3 of us, this arrangement is temporary.  Daughter #3 is doing an internship for the fall semester.  So once the Christmas break arrives, she'll be heading back to Texas.  Hopefully after Christmas since my plan is to have all of us spend it here.
Of course, this is the point where I could launch into a long post all about "my plans" and how they haven't always panned out.
So I'll just say that my hope is that we all spend Christmas in NY this year.

Daughter #1 is living here until the spring ...... I think.  It could be longer.
If we last that long.  :)

So this is the Part 2 of my "after".
It was supposed to be the Part 2 of OUR "after".  You know, as in ...... after Son #3 left for college.
We had talked a bit about living in New York for a year once he went off to school.  Once the last chick was out of the nest ...... we thought it would be great to live in NYC for a year.  Smack dab in the city.  Just to experience it.
We both thought it would be a great experience because we both loved this city and had many wonderful visits here.

But then ...... he died.
And much of me died with him.
All of my dreams, hopes and plans for the future died with him.
Or so I thought.

Two years ago the NYC dream started to flicker in my mind. It didn't really light up fully, it just flickered in and out, not having enough energy or fuel to really ignite.
Until January of last year.
That's when it went from a flicker ...... to a flame.  That's when I fully remembered our discussion about NY and how cool it would be to live here for a year.
And that's when I thought ....... "I could still do that.  I could totally still do that, once Son #3 goes off to school.  Why shouldn't I still do that?"

And that's when I knew I would.
Come hell or high water.
I would do what we both had agreed would be a great way to spend a year.
Or more.

And now ...... here I am.
I'd love to say that I'm here to stay for the next year.
But I have much traveling to do over the next several months.
So I'll be here for about 3 weeks, then back to Houston and Oklahoma for one week, and then back here.
Rinse, repeat ...... again and again until December, when I hope to get up here and stay for a month, before heading to Oklahoma for a dear, dear friend's daughter's wedding.
And then we shall see.

Because I'm thinking that January and February in Houston might be a much better idea than January and February in NY.
Call me crazy.
It's just what I think.

So this is my "after".  Actually, it's the Part 2 of my "after".
Part 1 was very long, and very, very painful.
I don't like thinking about Part 1 ...... and how horrible it really was.

But "Part 2" could only come ....... once I had experienced "Part 1".
No matter how very much I didn't want to experience that.
I had to get from there ...... to here.
And so I have.

I have surprised myself.
I couldn't have seen myself doing this ...... 5 years ago.  Or 4.  Or 3.
But then came the day ....... finally ...... when I could picture it.
When I remembered it.

And so here I am.
I absolutely love it here.  I hope that I will continue to love it, but who knows?  That's what this year is for.  To try it and see what it's like ...... to just live here and experience it.
Just me.  With the spirit of him.
I have no doubt that part of him is here with me, cheering me on, encouraging me, rooting for me.

So we'll see how it goes ...... for a year or so.
We'll see if I decide that this is a place where I'd like to stay.
It's funny (not in a ha-ha kind of way, but in a strange, ironic, twist-of-fate-way) that my reason for being here is different (mostly) than my reason was about 6 years ago, with Jim.
We thought it would be a neat experience.  We both wanted to just try it it ...... for 6 months to a year.
Just the two of us.
Living somewhere totally different from anywhere else we'd ever lived.

Today ...... today I'm here in NY because it will be a neat experience.
But there's more to it now ....... more than I ever imagined.

I love being here because here, in this city, I am just Janine.
That's all.
And that's so very nice.

I'm not Jim's widow, I'm not "poor Janine, who's husband died".  I don't get "the looks" from people here in NY that I do when I'm back home in Houston.

It's nice to be known, at least for several minutes, as just "Janine".  Just me.
None of those "looks".  No one here is disappointed that I am not the same person I was "before".

Because here ...... there was not a "before".  There is only here.  And making the most of here ...... and now.

I'm excited for my "After ...... Part 2".
We shall see what we shall see.

In the meantime ...... keep breathing, keep walking forward, even after you stumble backwards.
Don't give up.
You, too, will have an "After ..... Part 2".
Even though you can't see it now ...... can't even imagine it.
It will come.

And when it does, look me up in NY.
I love to have visitors.


  1. thank you Janine.
    How are you thinking of the whole "when to disclose widowed-ness" thing? I'm moving cross country - 1.5 weeks from now. I'm so glad to have what you describe here - no one knows me from before. There is no backstory of pity or overly-carefulness. But thinking about how and when I do disclose this huge part of me. All these new people.... I can't just Leave This Out. Hmmm. Not so much looking for answers, more wondering how other people are navigating this.


    1. Hi Megan,
      Whenever it's come up here I just mention it, as casually as I can, say "Thank you" after the person says, "Oh! I'm so sorry!", and then move on with the conversation. I don't leave dead space (so to speak .... wow, didn't see that ironic twist of words coming!) between us because I don't want to go down that road. If too many seconds go by then the questions will start. We all know about those questions. Ugh.
      I have found this really works. I suppose the other person just follows my cues, and if I seem comfortable just moving back to our conversation, then they are, too.
      I'm sure there will be exceptions, and some people may still want to ask more questions, but I hope that I can still appear comfortable and keep trying to steer the conversation. Unless, of course, it's a day that I feel like talking about it.
      We shall see. :)
      Keep me posted on how it goes for you ..... safe travels and blessings in your new home and your "After, Part 2"!

  2. I'm breathing, trying to walk forward, but still stuck in part 1. It seems endless, everything still in my face, every day, every moment, still without him. I seem to stumble more than ever these days, 3+ years out, and I still don't want to be here w/o him. Does it really get easier? I feel so stupid still stuck in this rut, family and friends just don't get it anymore. Neither do I.

    1. Anon --
      Yes, some things do become easier, though I think it's really that we grow stronger and so our grief becomes easier to carry.
      It will happen. I think that the 5 year mark was a real turning point for me. It really was the beginning of my "After, Part 2". I knew that I was going to be ok, and that I could be happy again. Really happy. It's a different happy, but it is happy. I can feel joy again, too.
      I will never be the same ...... I can't be. But I can be good, even better, in most ways. I will never be "over" the loss of him, ever. But I have stopped wishing for what cannot be ...... and have learned to make the most out of what is.
      I wish you peace and strength. You'll get there.

  3. Congratulations on following one of your "our" dreams. My wife and I always talked about retiring to Germany. So, last spring I went for a month to see if "our" dream was still "my" dream. Turns out it isn't, at least not right now. But you can't know unless you try.

  4. But Im your FAVORITE visitor, right? I, for one, am incredibly happy that you are here, in my hood, for hoever long or short you are here. It's so nice to have a few really good friends in the immediate area who truly "get it". See you soon!

  5. Technically, Kelley Lynn, you are NOT a visitor. You live there. I will be her favorite visitor! We shall all enjoy a bit of New York and what it has to offer. See you soon!

  6. I am thankful we did the adventure before he died. WE wanted to go for the same reason... just because we could! So we packed up the house and 4 dogs and drove across the country to Chicago.
    Mostly things were good.. then they went south (health-wise) and after a year we came home. We did love the adventure of it. Chicago couldn't be any more different than So Cal if it tried!
    I often think of doing that now, only getting a trailer, throwing the dogs in the truck and driving away....
    Maybe I will :)

  7. so much of how I feel now is based on the disappointments of "then". What we didn't get to finish together. How I feel left out of former friends' lives. How hard it is to find peace. I've begun to wonder about moving somewhere else part time. Not permanently, but for 6, 8, 10 months. How I'd swing it financially is the question,, but I could pare down considerably, it's true. Maybe a mobile home somewhere as an investment/rental, to use for myself as well. H-m-m-m.
    Keep your plans flexible, remember it's your life now, you can do what you want WHEN you want.

  8. Hi Janine,

    I like being just Maria. It is nice to have new friends who don't give me the sad look.

    Enjoy New York!

    Maria O.

  9. My husband died August 10, 2013 and ever since that day the future has been non-existent to me. Your post gives me hope that maybe one day I'll be able to dream again and think of the future. Thank you.