Getting to the point where you can successfully make large decisions on your own after the loss of your spouse is a long road. I don't know if this is actually the case, but it seems like women who have lost their spouses have a harder time with this than men. I may be wrong, but it seems like the men are just ready to "make the decision" to get rid of the floral couch they've always hated, hang that large moose head above the fireplace, and finally put their beloved shot glass collection in a place of honor like they've always wanted to.
I'm just envisioning what my husband would be doing if the situation were reversed.
For me, after the dust settled, it seemed like the only thing I was able to decide on for months was what color to paint my toes. I think I'd only had one pedicure in my life before my husband died, but after he was gone, if I had a spare thirty minutes, you'd find me at the local nail salon contemplating the fifty bottles of OPI colors in front of me.
I think there are several good reasons for this: The first is that there is something comforting about sitting in a massage chair and getting your feet rubbed and buffed. The second is that you're sitting with someone who could care less about your personal life and you don't have to explain a damn thing to them as long as you tip well. And the third is...if you make a poor decision and your nails turn bright orange, you can come back tomorrow and get your decision reversed.
When I think about that time in my life, I'm pretty lucky that my nails did not just surrender and fall off.
And it wasn't like I didn't want to make decisions. I was in what I like to think of as my "manic confusion" phase. I could strip the wallpaper in my house, but I couldn't decide what color to paint it. I could decide to go back to work, but I couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I missed having someone around to bounce all these big decisions off of and, truth be told, I missed having someone to argue with until I came to the right conclusion.
I spent the first couple of years constantly asking myself, "What would he do if he were here?" I constantly worried that if I did the wrong thing, he would be upset with me. How weird is that? I mean, even if it's true, hopefully I have at least another 50 years before I see him and surely he would have calmed down by then. But I couldn't help but wonder if he was a little irritated out there in the great beyond when I did something like...say...not bag the grass when I cut the lawn or let the organization in the garage go completely down the drain.
But when you get down to it, you can only do the best that you can do. Even though you don't want to be stuck in the position of Chief Decision Maker, there's really no way around it. And, frankly, no one judges you more harshly than your biggest critic...you. Your husband's not mad. He's up there laughing at you because now he gets to sleep in as much as he wants while you work your tail off down here. And I can guarantee you that no one else gives a damn if you bag up your lawn or not. Considering what you've been through, your neighbors are probably pleasantly surprised you're doing it at all.
In conclusion, I'll leave you with these parting words of wisdom that will sustain you for the rest of your widowed days: If this advice doesn't make you feel better...go get a pedicure. I'm telling you, it works wonders.
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© Catherine Tidd 2010