Counselors say you’re not supposed to make major decisions for six months to a year after a death. You need to wait to experience all of the “seasons of emotions”.
But what happens when you have no choice?
I asked my counselor this and she said while holding off on decisions is what’s best, it’s rarely realistic. You see there’s this thing called real life that can push you into places you aren’t really ready for but you do what you have to do.
I have no idea if I’m ready for anything. To be honest, every decision feels huge. I stand at the nail salon sweating over if I go with Gagantun grape or A Good Manderin is Hard to Find.
So, I don’t know how I’m supposed to handle real decisions that matter.
I found out in January I’m going to have to move. It isn’t my choice but that whole real life thing came knocking at my rented door. Our lease is up and my landlords are selling. It’s no one’s fault, it just is what it is and I have a flood of choices coming at me from every angle.
Asking a widow to make a decision is a lot like dealing with a toddler. They find a toy they’re madly in love for exactly 30 seconds before they determine they actually hate this toy and want to throw it on the ground. It happens at the same time they’re demanding a snack, crying because they stepped in water and also dancing to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s a full spectrum of emotions in a matter or seconds.
I go from one end of this to the other and back again with every choice I make. Now, add in a toddler and you can envision what our day to day life is looking like.
I signed a new lease, we’re downsizing into a 2 bedroom in a hip side of town. I’m starting to pack and pull together what is our life into boxes. It’s scary but I made my first real decision on my own.
Now I stand in our closet and walk into Joe’s clothes, hoping to catch a scent of him left on a shirt and feel completely overwhelmed with the thought of leaving. Then I’ll have a day where I’ll feel ready, almost excited about the future. A new energy, a fresh start, I know it’s what Joe wanted for me.
But then I’ll have a setback. We were at Disney with my family this week and I was walking out of a store with Mira on my hip when I was faced with real life parent stuff no one warns you about.
She puked all over me. Her first real human vomit. I had blueberries and macaroni down my bra yet all I could do was hold her face and tell her she was okay. It was in that moment I had a major flashback. You see, I’ve looked into those same gray eyes before and comforted that same scared look. My heart sank as I held our little girl and missed her daddy all while the Disney workers poured orange puke powder near our shoes.
I’m slowly going through our things. I’ll open a box and find the ornaments we made as wedding favors. I’m suddenly standing in our old apartment as Joe poured sand into little globes and I tied the ribbons. I know it’s all just “stuff” but it scares me to think I’d ever forget that memory— that moment.
My whole life I’ve been a planner. Go to college, get a job, get married, have a family. Never in that plan did I see the big “W”. Be a widow? Even when I knew Joe was dying, I never really faced what any of it meant for me, for my life. I simply knew I had to get Joe through it, my whole focus was looking in his eyes and promising him it’d be okay.
Joe stood in our garage and told me he didn’t want Mira to be an only child. He made me promise him I’d give her a sibling. I’d given him the world if it’d give him comfort but now as I sit on our giant bed alone I realize I never absorbed what any of it meant or how I’d ever get there.
So here goes, ready or not. What’s the worst that can happen? The truth is it’s all pretty impossible and essential at the same time.
Side note, in the time it’s taken me to write this I am no longer alone in this bed. I have a tiny human with her feet in my face.
Ready or not, here we go baby girl.