When normal people think of the change in seasons they think of…well…normal things. The holidays, trick-or-treating, lighting fireworks, enjoying watching the flowers bloom as you sneeze your head off and graduate from regular tissues to Puffs Plus (sorry…you can tell where my head is right now as I sneeze my head off).
But, if I may so bold, we widows are not really normal people.
For us, the change in seasons means that we need to brace ourselves for a new attack of memories. It’s not just the special days we struggle with…it’s everything that goes with it.
Now, Colorado is a beautiful state and I love the weather. I love how the summer is hot, in the fall the leaves change, the winter is snowy, and everything blooms in the spring. It’s like Mother Nature used us as a proto-type. Then she had a little too much to drink one night and created a deadly combo of heat and humidity that she slapped on the South before she passed out.
The pay-off was that she later received a kick-back from Sears for the business she threw their way in the air conditioning department. That has helped to pay for her hair extensions and new pre-owned Miata convertible.
When my husband died in the summer, I knew I could handle a Colorado fall, but the winter was going to be another story. I knew the days would be short, the weather had the possibility of being hideous, and there was a good chance I would get stuck inside for four months with three small children and very little adult interaction.
In case you were wondering…there’s not enough wine in the world to deal with that. Believe me, I know.
So, as winter approached, I dug my heels in and braced myself for what I thought was going to be my first real bout of depression. I mean, nothing says “down” like long, dark days, never-ending “Calgon Moments” with three children, and a dead husband. My life was why Prozac commercials were made.
But I got through it. I think because I had been expecting it, it really didn’t turn out so bad. I got used to dressing my kids up in all of their 15 layers and sending them out into the snow so I could get some peace. I found that the snow-blower (like my earlier revelation with the lawn mower) could drown out the tattling and screaming pretty well. And my neighbor next door opened his own liquor store so if I needed that emergency belt of wine, he could hook me up.
What I wasn’t expecting was how I felt in the spring.
Don’t you feel like the things that you expect…they really don’t turn out so bad. It’s the stuff that sneaks up on you that really knocks you on your ass.
I realized, once that first spring hit without my husband, that I had no one to sit on the porch with. No one to help me plant my flowers. No one to throw me in the pool when I was least expecting it.
My partner in crime was gone.
It was hard to explain to my children why, when the weather started getting nice, I was so damn cranky. I mean, every other sane person in the state was loving the 75 degree weather and couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy life. I, on the other hand, would walk outside, take one look at that blue sky, and stomp right back in.
I started to realize with the warm weather came activities I didn’t want to do alone. I didn’t know how to grill. Setting a beautiful table to dine outside seemed like a waste of time for my kids who were just as happy on a blanket in the yard with PB&Js and Cheetos. And rocking on the front porch seemed a little pathetic with no one there to rock alongside me.
I will admit to you, my blogging friends, that it took me a good two summers before I was able to just hang out and enjoy a beautiful day on my porch like I used to (which seemed like a really big waste because my porches were the entire reason I wanted to buy my house).
But once I finally made the leap and forced myself to sit in that chair and watch my kids play outside, it wasn’t so bad. My bitterness eased into a slow acceptance of my situation and gradually became what all of us colleagues in grief like to call “the new normal.” I even got used to rocking solo and if I didn’t want to be alone, I knew I could always ask my liquor store-owning neighbor to come over and join me.
The wine he brought didn’t hurt either.
© Catherine Tidd 2010