As the Christmas season passes and thoughts begin to turn to the new year ahead you might be wondering if this is the year you will begin to re-emerge? Well the truth is that your re-emergence isn’t a big drum rolling Ta Da moment – it’s the path you find when the pre-widow path you were on no longer exists and you’re on it from day one. The feeling of re-emerging only becomes apparent when the path starts to clear and ease a little and you begin to appreciate the beauty of the landscape around you again.
Without wanting to sound too clichéd about the journey of life I’m a map person and can spend hours poring over an OS map particularly if it is of an area I know – finding features I didn’t know about, comparing the reality of the landscape to what is on paper, and working out how each location relates to another. I can easily visualize my life as a map, a path finding its way across the landscape. I am possibly the only person to have visited the Vatican and spent so much time in the Upper Galleries of Maps I was quite ‘fresco’d’ out by the time I reached the Sistine Chapel and gave it little more than a passing glance. (I really should have taken a Geography degree but then again I probably wouldn’t have met some of my best life-long friends if I had so no real regrets there!)
The end of the pre-widow path can cease in a sudden catastrophic way like an earthquake creating a huge chasm in the landscape over which you cannot cross, or maybe it peeters out after a long slow meandering or a climb up a mountain that just becomes too steep and impassable. However your path ends one thing is certain it ends and somehow you must find another.
How long you stay at that end point is unique to you, and only you can determine the length of your stay there. My path ended after a long slow meandering illness. I remember clearly waking the morning after my parents left following Bruce’s funeral, thinking this is now the rest of my life – like it or lump it I’ve got to get on with it. I had to get back on track – besides which, Bruce, with his big hearted generous spirit, had insisted I promise to him that I would continue to live my life after his had finished. I had spent a lot of time in the knowledge that the path I was on would soon fade away but had been both unable and unwilling to re-trace my steps and get off it before it ended itself. A friend once asked a few years into Bruce’s terminal diagnosis…how will you cope, what will you do when IT happens….I can’t remember my exact reply but it was something along the lines well I will deal with it, like I’m dealing with this illness he has, I have to – to survive.
So I didn’t linger long at the end of that path. The path I took ran alongside a seemingly easy freewheeling highway, similar to the one I had been on originally before Bruce’s cancer. Everyone else it seemed to me was rolling along nicely and from first glance it would seem I was on that road too, except when you looked a bit closer I was on the rough track alongside it, all around to one side was the vast empty plain on which my path had ended as a constant reminder of my emptiness, to the other side a huge great crash barrier stopping me from re-joining the main highway. So there I was, frantically running to try and rejoin the main highway again, silently screaming for help to find the slip road to re-join. So frantic I allowed myself no let up – physically or mentally. I even bought a horse to help me along the way.
Eventually my horse and I parted company and after I was catapulted into the air, somersaulting and thinking yikes this is going to hurt when I hit the ground (which it did) I was forced to stop and take stock of the path I was on. I had been so frantic to rejoin the original path I believed I was intended for I hadn’t take time to grieve or to explore the other less obvious paths that had come along my way.
With some informal coaching, counseling, a huge amount of reading and writing of journals and enforced hospital bed rest I was finally beginning to see that I would never rejoin that original path I had been on. I had a new path to follow and actually although it was very different to that original one I was really truly honestly beginning to quite like it. It had veered away from running alongside the highway I could never rejoin, and the vast empty plains had slowly evolved into a changing landscape full of interest and beauty. What astounded me most was that it had taken me nearly FIVE years to reach this point!
I can now look back on those frantic years, and appreciate both the sweetness and bitterness of the things that I did, events that happened and the ever evolving relationships with family and friends and men as both my life and theirs collided and bumped along their unique paths. I see that there were other paths I could have taken, but as with all life’s paths we can only see ahead to the next corner and so I’m none the wiser as to whether they would have been a better path to take – just different. And one thing is for sure I’m very happy with the path I’m on now.
There is no right or wrong time to start re-emerging, it is already happening but it takes time to see it.
And it takes time to work it out and to appreciate it.
And it’s a process that never stops.
Take your time :-)