I try to think of who I was, in his eyes. And I don't really know. So I try to think about who I was when I met him, but that would be backtracking on a significant amount of progress. Although I do wish I could tap into the joy I felt at finally being able to teach my own class. That was an immense and wonderful feeling. So I try to think of the things that I embraced through our relationship. I feel like so many of those things are beyond ethereal...traveling was a big one. I had gone through Europe in a whirlwind tour that was a dream come true that I never ever thought I'd realize. Then, I took myself to Australia to get my SCUBA license on the Barrier Reef, I tried surfing, rode in a Tiger Moth, went skydiving...What a treasure and magical gift those adventures were. I got to announce dive shows to literally hundreds of people at Thorpe Park in London while he set himself on fire and did goofy dances day after day. And our honeymoon was in South America, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Pichu. That was something we had talked about, dreamed about, when we were dating and I was living in La Plata. We were emailing a lot at the time, living two hours away. A relationship through letters and phone calls, and weekends full of passion and playfulness and desperation.
I can't afford to travel anymore. I have no one to watch the dogs and it would mean tickets and accommodations for four. I barely make enough to get bills paid and take a few trips to Luray Caverns, see a few movies, and buy clothes for their growing bodies and my fluctuating one.
I was loving Tae Kwan Do at the time and learning to bounce on his trampoline team. Now, not only do I not have the time for classes, I had a hard time finding a martial arts studio I liked when I moved here. Plus, my damn body hurts! My knees are the worst. And as for flipping again, I couldn't keep up pace with simply bouncing at this point. These things feel a little more like excuses than the money issues, I have to admit. But I do feel like right now, I have three days of activities during the week, and church on Sundays. That leaves Monday, Friday, and Saturday to rest, spend time with the kids, do what seems like three hundred loads of laundry, go grocery shopping, and try to do some tiny little version of cleaning something in the house. I can't add anything else right now.
Who else was I, that he fell in love with? It was so much easier to maintain a smile and a laugh. I feel like I still laugh a lot, but there is this deep dark gray that lurks under the covers. Even if you can't see it out there, it squeezes everything inside me. All the time. I was not naive. I had already experienced quite a lot. But there was a tenderness to my hope. I haven't really let go of hope. But it doesn't feel tender anymore. It feels mildly bitter, it feels frayed, certainly subdued, almost violated.
It is too early to look for someone to walk beside me, to hold my hand, to help things feel lighter. To help me laugh. But I think of my babies and how much easier it is for the younger ones to accept a big change and how hard they might fight someone coming into our family the longer they have only me to rely on. And I think of the fact that I am 39. Perhaps 40 would have been a hard age to face even with John alive and well...but it doesn't seem that way when I think back. What feels scary is that I am a 39 year old widow with three small kids, 60 extra pounds that won't go away no matter how well I eat (thank you, stress...and wine), and far more than what feels like my fair share of baggage to wade through. Who the HELL would be willing to wade through all the crap I carry to jump into life with me? With anyone who carried this much? Maybe if I was younger...or if I were older and the kids were older, almost grown...or if I was my strong and healthy weight?
But these are all "what ifs" and I don't normally do those much. I never saw the point. So there is another change.
I do feel like I am dying...like the woman he loved died with him and was burned up as his body was incinerated...pieces of her, melting into him. And I feel like I am still burning up and reforming...like I am metal in a forge...and life keeps whacking the hell out of me, a blacksmith with a hammer and no clear plan of what they are making. I want out. I want to be done. And I can scream all I want from inside the flames, but there's no one who can hear me.
Besides, I don't want to come out all mangled and incomplete. So I have to stay in...I have to stay feeling like I am dying till the fire burns out.