This spring has been different for many reasons, not the least of which I’m working through the grief of being newly widowed and suffering withdrawals from all my family and friends who make up so much of my life’s memories.  It’s a dual roller coaster, and when the widow is up, the woman in shelter is down because she no longer has a companion to share laughter or the freedom to extend a bit of hospitality to a neighbor or friend.

I’m giving myself permission to be human and mourn for however long it may take.  I lost the love of my life…for this very traditional lady, when reality hit, I was unprepared to lose him as quickly as I did.

The most difficult time of my day is cocktail time; where once my Rogue and I sat and discussed everything from art to politics on the front porch, that porch is no longer ours… that house is across town. Now, I sit alone, listening to the radio or cooking with a glass at my right alongside the stove.  This is a kitchen that we never really had a chance to share except for the pot of rice that he alone cooked to perfection! He’d sold real estate and successfully charmed his Filipino clients into teaching him how to measure the water (two fingers at the higher knuckle) for a perfect pot of rice.  No amount of my measuring ever came close.

Easter and Mother’s Day passed without the ability to visit with adopted family or share my familiar traditions, so I determined to spend the days keeping busy, my mind racing and my joints trying to keep up.  I moved furniture, I cleaned  drawers,  I emptied boxes, I rearranged my frogs…(don’t ask), I watered and repotted herbs and plants; in short, I was all over the map, leaving a trail of every task I’d begun from one end of the house to the other.  In between, I cooked chili, roast, homemade soup, steak, seafood, pasta, and other holiday favorites of mine, all in my attempt to reset a celebratory charm.  Oh yes, I drank my wine or cocktail with the appropriate food groups: salami, bread, cheese…and lots of butter.

Feeling overwhelmed is not unfamiliar.  A lifetime of depressive bouts occur regularly and these somber times are familiar, so I know they will subside.  A good night’s sleep and the next day will dawn with new optimism. I CAN DO THIS.

When I shift into reverse and lose sight of my goal, I take a break.  Music helps clear the cobwebs and oil the gears so that I can once again move forward. Back on course, I manage to wave off the distractions and finish the task at hand.

The weather has been unusual; here at my new little freeze-dried Frog Haven I am watching the utility bill and honing yet another budget from my years of managing a household…I think this one is number 392 but I may have lost count. I’ve only lived in ten different addresses my entire life, so when I contemplate how many hours of tweaking the numbers under all circumstances that these spreadsheets covered, I find this estimate acceptable.  My gears are still shifting and, as my Rogue would have said when I momentarily pause, “You’re thinking again and that’s dangerous.”  Yes, it has been and might yet be, as I’m now the pathfinder seeking unexplored territory in what is a very strange solitude.

I’ve a freedom to seek out my own diversions and, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to perform to anyone else’s standards but my own.  I am no longer a daughter, a wife, or a mother with a young child.  I can just be.  Yes, this solitude is very strange for me.

I have everything I need, so I’m forced to delve into several boxes of sentimental stuff, furnishing my own little patch of warm earth.  I’m rediscovering precious keepsakes and experimenting with old possessions to cozy up this place and still shout “hospitality” to my future visitors.

I have tasks and projects and dreams yet to complete, and other goals I want to achieve; but my mind swirls and slows my pace to a great degree.  I feel like an unfinished garden bed waiting for the flowers to bloom and forgetting that I didn’t buy enough seedling six packs to fill in the holes; yep, this lady is missing at least two bulbs – some moments, a few more!

Now a widow and accustoming myself to doing things when I want to, not because I have to, I once again remind myself to accept any initial progress, knowing more will come slowly and with consistent effort.    Because I have always worked like the tortoise, I’m moving onward, still believing that old axiom, “Slow and steady will win the race”.

Yep, there are days I feel that I’m two bulbs short of a flower bed; but I’ve experienced tougher challenges.  Besides, I take supplements and kill germs with wine, so in the current environment I’m ready to tackle each day’s events with His Guidance and Silent Messages steering me.

Annette Brochier Johnson, 2020