There are times when daily life gives us the chance to be extraordinary. Actually, I think every day has that potential. But, when a loved one is recently departed it seems the opportunities are vast. The trick is if we rise to meet them. I feel a failure in that regard most of the time. But, of course, every day is another opportunity.
As one settles into the new reality, knowing that life will never be the same as it was before, you have to find your way into that new reality – make your place in it – make your peace with it. In some ways the fact that I live away from my family makes it harder – I don’t have that support system. In other ways it makes it easier – the new reality is not “in my face” as it is for everyone else.
Regardless of the circumstances, we all find our way to cope, to make a new world, to move into the future while being mindful of the past. For me, coping means “doing” and “scheduling.” These may seem odd, but they work for me.
Greg has joked with me for many years that I can be “such a guy” about some things. One of those is that I like to “do” something when faced with anything difficult. I want to accomplish something, do something, get something done. “Done” is one of my favorite words.
Today I had the opportunity to do that. I offered to help Mattie with thank you notes. I spent the afternoon working on them and we had a hefty stack by the end of the day. We still have a couple to write, but they’re largely done.
Whenever I feel myself slipping into a depression, or not functioning as I know I should, I start scheduling myself. It seems incredibly simple, but I start making appointments for myself that require me to be certain places at certain times. Somehow that structure helps me cope. It gives me a framework in which to function.
One of my ways to work up to that, when that seems too daunting, is to get things on the calendar that are far in the future. I do things like make sure the monthly appointment with the Culligan man is on the calendar. Why is that helpful? I have no idea. The Culligan man and I aren’t that close – we go many months and don’t even cross paths – but somehow the idea that he will come every month is reassuring. It’s there on the calendar. Life is going on. Things are happening – because, look, the Culligan man is scheduled.
We humans are funny, aren’t we? We have all these little tricks we play on ourselves. But somehow they help us move forward.
Another part of moving forward to me is always being rooted in the past. Greg has been here a couple of days longer than expected – he was really sick with a sinus infection and slept almost 24 hours solid. Today he felt considerably better, although not perfect. But we drove over to Bandana to visit the hardware store that is closing. They weren’t open but I snapped a photo of Arivett’s Grocery Store, which hasn’t been a store for a very long time. I can’t recall ever having been inside it, but surely I was at some point. Regardless, I love seeing these pits of the past hanging stubbornly onto a bit of our future.
I also love this house with the tin roof, just a couple of blocks away.