A Different Day……

A Different Day

I see things differently every day…..

I think I can now say that it has finally sunk in.  Not that it hadn’t sunken it at all before, and not that I won’t feel the weight of it tomorrow.  But I have definitely settled in a bit. Time is definitely a factor in this healing equation.  This new, different life is going to happen whether I’m ready or not.

It has been over 6 months since Andrew passed away, and I find I’m shaking my head less often.  My shock and disbelief have settled into a seat that’s a little further back on my mental train, and I’m left to ride on, looking forward through a glass that is slightly less foggy.  People have gone back to their own seats and now look toward their own destinations.

So here we are, starting a new year.  Black Friday started on Thursday, Cyber Monday started on Sunday, Christmas came and went, and we did it.  We made it.  We got our tree, gave our gifts, saw a couple friends and some family, and began this “new normal.”  It was different, but it was OK.  It was all right.  Next year we’ll do it all over again.

IMG_9773

I imagine that 2016 will be just as much of a surprise as 2015 was.  I think after you live through horrible things you learn to change your expectations.  I’m less surprised at everything that happens; I guess I’m somewhat desensitized.  I get less ruffled when things glitch.  It’s all relative.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days when one little thing happens, and it makes me feel like I’ve hit rock bottom.

In the past four years, in addition to “regular” life surprises, my dad passed away, my mom gave in to Alzheimer’s, Andrew and I retired from jobs, Hope started college and we moved.  Then Andrew passed away……and Grace had to start back to school without him.  How much can one family withstand?  The answer is “a lot.”  And a lot of people withstand a lot of stuff.  We all become different people as we experience these “different days” and survive everything that happens to us.  I have to say that I look at people, and life in general, a lot differently than I used to.

A friend said to me, “Life is just one tragedy after another.”  I agree.  It’s true.  But I have to add that life is also one joy after another.  I can’t help but laugh at some of the bright, quirky things my girls say or do, and I can’t help getting a kick out of hearing a friend burst out laughing on her end of the phone…..

You never know what will hit you next.

IMG_0126

So I’m glad it will be 2016.  It’s not that I expect it to be a better year; I’m just more aware that anything can happen at any time.  That’s not such a bad lesson to learn.  Also, I’m glad that 2015 is over.  (Plus, 2016 is an even number. I like even numbers, I don’t know why.  I always feel a little better on the first day of an even numbered year.  Crazy.)

The future is a mystery.  Many things are mysteries, and there will be more surprises, I know.  Who would ever have thought that I’d be frosting cookies in a local bakery…that I’d have the voice students I have now….that I’d have an Etsy store…?

IMG_9771

There is one thing that I haven’t mentioned yet…..hope.  Some may call it faith, maybe some call it optimism.  What ever it is, there must be a little of it left in me or I wouldn’t be able to wake up tomorrow…..

Have I said yet that I am grateful?  I think I am more grateful now than I have been my entire life.

Tomorrow will be a different day.  I’ll probably see things differently than I did today.  And who knows what I will come to think and feel next year?

My life moves ahead.  Yours does, too.  None of us know what’s out there in the distance.  I hope we can all relax, take our time, travel along with the surprises and be grateful for what we have.
Addendum to A Different Day

I actually wrote this piece several weeks ago, but when the day came that I had scheduled to post it I couldn’t post it.  It seemed too positive.  It seemed much too optimistic and “got it together” to post.  Things weren’t going really well, and I didn’t feel I was handling the glitches very well.

I tried waiting until I felt like I was living up to what I wrote. I waited some more. And today I realized that if I wait until I feel I’m worthy I’ll never post anything!  I realize that it’s OK if, in my own mind, I don’t always live up to what I write.

Tomorrow will be a different day again, and I’ll probably feel differently about many things. At least I hope I do….and I’ll have another chance.

IMG_9520

Advertisements

Why the pink tool bag?

                                   Why the pink tool bag?                                       IMG_7902

This is a photo of a pink tool bag.

Why?  Why the pink tool bag???

I was in a store, I can’t remember which one, and Hope and I were in the tool/home improvement section.  She was looking for something that would help her in her bike-building process, and I was meandering about as there was nothing I needed.

I came upon this pink tool bag.  Now…….I am assuming that this tool bag was meant for a woman.  And I am also assuming that the bag is pink because pink is associated with the female sex.

Sigh.

I don’t need a pink tool bag.  I don’t want a pink tool bag.  Someone, somewhere thought I might want one, I guess.  Perhaps they thought I would like the bag, and buy it because it is pink.  Would the pink bag help me to take care of my maintenance issues in a more feminine way?  Or would I have more fun, feel more confident as a female, fix with flair if I had that pink tool bag at my side?

I have had to get used to fixing some things myself, which is not to say that I didn’t fix things when Andrew was here.  In fact, I think it might be safe to say that I have been more of a handy woman than Andrew was a handy Man!  Bob, head of maintenance at The Grier School, can attest to that!  Andrew didn’t call him for everything, but he called him a lot!

I am not claiming to be handy woman extraordinaire, but I can handle a few things on my own.  When there’s something I can’t handle I ask for help, and I’m so grateful to those who are willing to pop over and spend some time with hammer in hand.  And I’m proud to say that I now know the “year” of all our cars and when their inspections are due.

Men and women know these things, men and women take care of all that needs to be done, and we don’t need pink or blue bags in order to do them.  (That being said, if you like your camo carry-all or your fuschia furniture, who cares?!)

Maintenance issues aren’t the only things that I’ve had to get used to taking care of.  Everything has now redefined itself…..every part of my life.  I am redefining myself, from the pink bag dilemma to the checkbook register to the way I need to function in the world…….

I’m fortunate to be able to take my time a little bit and look for the direction that I need to take.  I have heard people say, “Find out what you love and find a way to make money at it.”  Andrew sure knew what he loved.  All his “student friends” from all his years at Grier and in Tyrone can attest to the fact that he loved students and was just overjoyed beyond belief to help them find the education they needed or take the best pic to send to parents.  And in every photo he took you can feel a bit of the artistic, loving genius that focused the lens.

090101CathedralMontana

For me it’s a little different.  I love a lot of things, most of them creative…..theater, music, art, writing…… I’ve often felt like that jack of all trades…. How content we all would be if we could make a living doing what we love, right?!

Andrew with monster face

In the days shortly after Andrew’s memorial service, after my brother-in-law flew home and the crowds thinned out, I started treasure hunting for sapphires in Andrew’s gravel (Please see my Gravel Story post if you are confused!).  Even though the rough gems I found were far from their faceted end destination I was inspired by the process.  I got out some colorful beads and a watch face that I had bought months before, and while the girls were watching TV (I’m not always totally interested in America’s Next Top Model!) I made myself creatively busy…..

One thing led to another, and now I have an Etsy store!  I will unabashedly put a plug in right here for myself because people like it so far, and you just might be curious anyway.  It’s DarcyWilsonArt.etsy.com.  I don’t know how successful this venture will be, but at least for now I’m doing something I love.  And I’m learning a lot….it’s really interesting to try to figure out how to make an online store work.  For instance, my listings won’t come to the top of searches right now because I’m an “untrusted” quantity.  People will have to “favorite” my shop and give “reviews” before Etsy will trust me to make a big enough cut for them!  The art is only part of it all…..SEO stuff, choosing the right words, the right items…..

IMG_8468 (1) IMG_8773 IMG_8972 IMG_9060

Anyway, I don’t know if this experience will be the defining one for me but it is at least something to get excited about.  I like that it’s different from what I’ve done before.  Everything I’m doing right now if different than what I’ve done before.  And I am forced to become different now, too…..

Andrew was such a big personality.  When we went places together I really didn’t have to say much.  He was the extrovert and I the introvert…..it was a pretty good match now that I come to think of it.  25 years of not having to come up with small talk!

1916517_208335098948_5738425_n

That’s not true, really.  I had to do my share because everywhere I went with Andrew he was looking up someone that he knew from some other time in his life.  I distinctly remember him sitting on a hotel bed with the phonebook in his hand when he couldn’t remember if he knew someone who lived in the town we were visiting…..

Andrew was the perfect example of how to converse in social situations.  He was totally comfortable because he truly believed that Everyone wanted to talk to him!  What confidence!  He looked at a group of strangers and said, “What fun!”  I would look at the same group and say, “God, help me!”  He’d pick up the phone and just know that the person on the other end would be pleased as punch to give him their time.  I pick up the phone with a sweaty palm and pray the person isn’t home!

Please don’t think that I am socially inept….the part of my world away from Andrew’s side consisted of many wonderful people that did not make me sweat…..my theater friends, my book club girls, my students and colleagues…. but when I was at a party or just anywhere with Andrew I really didn’t have to say much!  In fact, looking back, I think sometimes I didn’t have a chance to say much…… Every once in a while I did have something to say and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise!

532794_469529779727952_899590086_n

So.  Here I am.  I’m filling in the spaces…..those empty spaces.  The dead silences that happen within conversations.  Sometimes it’s really awkward.  Sometimes it’s really lonely to be the one saying it all.  But to be fair, sometimes it’s nice not to have to wait for an opening.  I’m stepping into those empty spaces whether I want to or like it…..and I’m doing it.  I really am.

I’m filling in the empty spaces all over the place.  My friends and family are filling in spaces too.  And even though no one can fill up Andrew’s space they fill up the whole entire area all around it.  I don’t want Andrew’s space to be filled up anyway.

So I reach into my purple toolbox….Oh, I didn’t tell you that I have a purple toolbox!  Yes, I admit it.  I love my purple toolbox.  Dawn gave it to me; I’ve had it for years.  Anyway, I reach into my purple toolbox for the little picture hanger thingy that Jerry and Mike got at Walmart and I intend to put one of Andrew’s photos up in my studio….fill in that big, white space over the piano…..

And then maybe I’ll make a bracelet.  I think I’ll make Lori’s.  It’s the pink one.

The Gravel Story: It’s All Rough

This is the gravel story.

I was trying to think of a really great second post, something lighthearted, not too sad.  My first thought was “the gravel story!”  It’s a great story.  But after I wrote it I realized how sad it is, too.  It’s great, but it’s sad.

I’m writing it anyway.

I can’t avoid telling stories because they aren’t happy.  That’s what life is going to be for me.  Everything that happens, no matter how funny, interesting, adventurous, newsy or scary, everything will have at least a tinge of sadness because Andrew is not here to live out these things with me.  That’s just how it is.  We need to tell about the joy, the love and the happiness while also including that tinge of sadness.  This is OK.  It will be OK.  So here it is….the gravel story……

Some have heard it already, but it’s definitely worth a re-tell.

What you need to know before I continue…..  One, my daughter, Hope, got me hooked on sapphire hunting.  Two,  Andrew enabled my addiction.  Three, we’ve found some really nice sapphires in gravel from Montana mines, and I’ve made jewelry from them.

(Sorry for the interruption, but before I go much further I feel I need to tell you that my brother-in-law, Kim, and my father-in-law, David, who live in Montana, have been very instrumental in this pursuit of the big blue bling, always suggesting activities for visits.  Cousin Mairin has enjoyed the search, and my sister-in-law, Liz, has been seen with her fingers in gravel, too, so henceforth I’m calling it a Wilson family thing, whether they would agree or not!)

Anyway……

At the end of June Andrew went to Montana.  He loved to visit his family and, being the extroverted soul that he was, he loved to connect with anyone and everyone he knew while there.  He’d always fit in an adventure or two just because that was the way he lived.  He arranged to go sailing with his friend Bill, so on the day before he passed away he got to spend time doing one of his favorite things in the whole, wide world…..  And they sailed on Canyon Ferry Lake outside of Helena…..

Over to the Lemont part of the story…..

On that day I got a text from Andrew.  It was a picture.  Actually no text at all.

IMG_2066

I respond, “Cool.  What is that?”  I thought he and his dad went to a ghost town or something.

Then I get this pic…..

IMG_2074

I’m thinking, “What on earth?……..”  Then it dawns on me!  The first pic was of the store at the sapphire place, and the second was of the bag of gravel and sifting screen that he got for me!  He texts, “Sapphire place and your next bag of treasure!”

I say, “YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!”

He says, “I will check the check-on luggage limit and probably put some in my carry-on.”  (He had a plan already.)

I say, “You are WONDERFUL!”

As it turns out, in Montana Andrew had gone sailing with Bill and when he saw the sapphire place he thought of me, as he always did, and stopped to get me a bag of gravel that I could sift through at home.

If you knew Andrew you have witnessed this kind of caring from him.  He always had other people in mind…. He always had me in mind.  He loved me so much.  He loved the girls so much.  Of course he wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think there’s anyone left in this world who could love me more.

I’m so glad that Andrew was happy.  He sailed, he hiked, he took photos, and he was thinking of his family in the midst of his happiness.  He didn’t know he was writing his final chapter of life. What a huge lesson to all of us left here…..we don’t know which chapter we’re writing, do we?  Did we choose the right book to write?  (Sigh.  That’s another post.)

IMG_6639

Back to the gravel….it’s not the end of the story……

That gravel could have been “long ago lost and forgotten,” but thanks to Grandpa David it made a comeback!  Andrew had told his dad about getting the gravel for me, and in the nick of time David told Kim to check the back of Andrew’s rental car.  Sure enough, there it was.

Kim wanted to make sure that I got Andrew’s last gift to me, so he and his friend, Tom, made plans to send the bag to me in PA.

So now we’re present day…….I have gone through about half of the bag.  I’m rationing it.  And I’m saving the parts that I’ve gone through just in case I’ve missed something!  I’ll go through them again someday.  Here’s what I’ve found from that bag so far.

IMG_7862

It’s all rough; that’s what these beauties look like in the raw.  I don’t know what the big chunk is.  I’ll do some research and probably send the best pieces off to be examined and possibly heat treated or faceted.

Just so you don’t think I’m totally crazy, I’ll show you what some of my other sapphires looked like after this process……

IMG_4219 IMG_4272

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew was so excited to surprise me with that gravel.  What a great gift!  I cannot describe to you how it felt to open up the package when it arrived, to retrieve the last physical, earthly, well-planned gift that Andrew could ever give to me.

Yes, it’s all rough……the things we have to search through, the joys that we have to find hidden in the dirt, rocks, dust, and all the rest that we really don’t want…..

It’s a gravel story, and we will tell it every day.

 

 

 

 

 

With And Without Experience

People ask me how I’m doing.  I don’t know whether I should tell the truth or not.  Usually I make up some kind of mixture of truth and tact.

My husband, Andrew, died in July.  This July.  July 6th.  He had a heart attack.  He was only 55.

So as of today he’s been gone two months.  I think I really thought he would never die.  That sounds strange, I know.  But now the totally unthinkable has happened, and I’m learning how to live without him.  In a way he’s still here…..in us, in the love for our new house, in the stuff that he loved that sits around here…..

But mostly, we’re without.

Now it’s just my daughters and I.

I don’t mind when people ask how I am.  I’m glad people reach out in any way at all.  I’m not an extrovert.  That was Andrew, the first to knock on a door and make a friend.  For the most part I’m not comfortable knocking on doors or picking up the phone to ask for company.

So if you asked how I am, and I gave you the straight answer, I would say that I am having a hard time because this is not the experience I signed up for.  I’m not pitying myself; I realize that no one receives the grand experiences of their wildest dreams.  My husband had some grand experiences in all his travels but he also lived and loved the experience of every normal day….finding a penny on the sidewalk, finding out something new about another human…..

But even with that I KNOW that this new experience I’m living is not the adventure he would have wanted for me.  He would not have wanted there to be no choice for me, this life without.

Still, this has to be my experience, even though I have no experience…..

He would want me to do this well.  I owe it to him.  All the love he gave, all the days he worked, all the early mornings he worried….I have to take what he gave and keep giving.

So that’s the challenge….to do well what I have never done, what I never intended to do.

I am not alone.  I realize that everyone I pass by every day is probably fighting his or her own battle to meet challenges and succeed.  I am not alone in that I have some wonderful people in my life.  I know that their strength and knowledge will help me.  I am not alone, too, because I have my daughters here with me.

It feels like mission impossible.

But…. Tomorrow will come, and I will do what I need to do.  It is what I want to do.  And I want to do it well.

If you are a friend reading this, thank you.  Please ask how I am.  Please tell me if you’re OK.  If you are someone who has lost a spouse I hope you find the strength to do what you need to do.  Whoever you are I hope you can “do today” with or without experience and do it well.

080706ESSEX Lake