Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | December 8, 2011

a repost: Driving Under the Influence

I am in a better place than I have been in a long time. Some of this is from “doing the work – and it is all work”.  Some is from pure happenstance – the delightful synchronicity of life and love and goodness and light reappearing. I guess some is just from time passing.

But this morning I read this line from a friend’s blog post  “Or maybe I am looking for pieces of her? Or shards of myself? …Look. That small pile of fluff in the corner, there’s my certainty that everything will, in the end, be ok.

and it brought to mind this piece I wrote a lifetime ago (um, last summer). When you get to be our age, loss is necessarily layered upon loss, and even if that helps one appreciate the fullness and beauty of life, we are all sadder than we were twenty years ago, if we have any heart at all.

Losing that solidness, that certainty I always could fall back on, “that everything  will, in the end, be ok”  is one of the hardest parts of all this. How naive we were once. That is what has changed me maybe most of all, as much as the huge hole J. left behind when he had to go – the loss of that innocence. And yes, I sit with the uncertainty and allow it into my life and study it, work on letting go of resistance to it, work on leaning into it. But still, I miss that feeling that if I fell, eventually I would hit bottom and be ok. It is much harder work to Be Ok With Not Being Ok. 

September 2010

My good friend & I have been taking turns driving to a favorite swimming spot.

I can tell that my slow, law-abiding, methodical driving  –  obeying the speed limit, coming to a full stop at stop signs, pausing for pedestrians in crosswalks even when they don’t seem to expect it  – is driving her quite insane. Her mouth twitches, her eyes dart about, and there is lots of exasperated sighing.  (I won’t even bother mentioning what her driving style does to me when I am her passenger.)

Finally I had to bring it up. I told her: You should know there are three reasons I drive this way now. First, there was that $180 speeding ticket a few years back. Was driving along thinking about my newly deceased father, thinking about helping my mother empty the house. Distracted. Yes, I was going 48 in a 30 on an exit ramp leading to a straightaway that I take many times a week and had never noticed the speed limit sign before that day, nor the police cars that I now see patrolling the area. Won’t be making that mistake again. Too expensive.

Second, a dear loved one was hit by a car and permanently injured while walking in a downtown crosswalk. The driver, a perfectly nice lady, was all apologetic, sent flowers, even, and there was talk of a settlement, but that does not give my dear one her old life back, not even a little bit. She’s not the same person she was before and she never will be. I want no part of that responsibility and I now make even more of a point to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. 

And third and perhaps most telling: residing, as a widow does, inside the random chaos, destruction, and sadness this world contains, I no longer trust that everything will be okay.



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