Tag Archive | truth

Pressing Onward in 2017


After announcing my resolve to ‘do better,’ I unfortunately took a few steps backward. Thus far, it’s been a difficult year. It’s about to get better. It will get better because I recognize that despite all the self-sabotage habits I continue, I am a warrior.

I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection. The 18-year-old bridge in that photo still exists somewhere within my soul. Decades have passed and I’ve watched people I love die, but I’ve also watched people I love flourish. My children, who weren’t yet here, have grown to become adults pursuing their own paths and dreams. I had to say goodbye to my mother, my wind beneath my wings, and not a day passes that I don’t wish I could speak to her. I spent most of the last decade grieving the husband I loved dearly, too distraught to see life through the rose-tinted glasses the young girl in the photo donned. It was as though the girl in the photo shed those windows to optimism and died the same day he died.

Despite the grief, I managed to overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life. I learned that even with all grief consumes, the slightest connection to perseverance prevails. Even with this knowledge, I could see myself gradually slipping into a dark world in which optimism fades into the shadows. Negativity was slowly consuming my soul. I began to experience anger and resentment. When I saw couples holding hands, I felt pangs of envy tug at my heart. I knew the person feeling envy wasn’t me; it couldn’t be what I had become.

Recently, a dear friend said a few words to me that finally pulled me from a dark world filled with only negativity. That friend has no idea how profound seven little words spoken aloud could influence my heart. In that fleeting moment, I could see the direction in which I was moving and I realized how ugly and dark my soul could become. Since then, I’ve reflected on decisions I’ve made, things I’ve said, and even my thoughts. I didn’t like what that reflection revealed. I don’t belong in that world.

My friend will never know that one comment pulled me from darkness, but I’ll know and I’ll always be grateful. None of us knows how much time we have here; all we can do is live our lives and hope that we leave the world a little better than we found it. My friend reminded me how important it is to make helping others an ultimate goal.

My gift is that I love and care about people. I received an important message last week and it is the key to restoring my soul. It is ironic that one of the last things my husband said to me was, “The key is in helping others.” I lost my way for a little while, but I’m finding my way back. Through the chapters of my life, I’ve lost loved ones, as have we all, but I have blessings too. I’m going to remind myself that every day for the rest of my years. I am blessed.

©Relinda R. 2017

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Life is What You Make It


 

I call myself a writer, but I haven’t written anything (other than syllabi, course proposals, and research material) in a long time. I am taking this brief respite from work to write something personal. Oh sure, it happens to be the first day of a new year, so you’re probably thinking, “It’s just that ‘new year, new me’ bullshit,” but it’s more than that. It’s a story of a widow stepping out of the fog and looking for the sun for the first time in seven years. Yes, the first day of a new year is a good time to start anew, but this is something I’ve needed to do for some time. I’ve been lost in a fog of grief for the last seven years and I’m ready to walk out of the fog and resume living. I’m ready to experience life. I’m ready to meet the new me.

I was 42 years old when I enrolled at college, 44 when I proudly accepted my first degree, 47 when I earned a B.S. degree, and almost 50 when I earned an M.A. I was still working on the Associate’s degree when I lost my husband to cancer. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement. His death changed everything. I promised him that I would finish my education and I wasn’t about to let him down, but that promise became my driving force to keep going. My mom was able to see me accept a B.S., but sadly, she passed away before I presented my Master’s thesis. Oddly enough, I know both my husband and my mom were with me the whole way and had the best seats in the house during commencement ceremonies. I did all that, but I still wasn’t sure who I was without my husband by my side.

During the last seven years, I earned three degrees and did it during the most difficult and loneliest period of my life. I never claimed that I did it alone; I had family and friends, but I often felt alone. In 2008, before my husband died, I remember telling people that life is what you make it. I forgot that after his death. I believed that my life was some plot from a real nightmare. While I was lost in that fog of grief, I forgot that my life was exactly what I made it.

During the last seven years, I went from earning minimum wage in a bookstore to becoming a Director at a college. I’ve had opportunities to present at conferences and lead different activities. I met many different people and made new friends. And I did all that while stumbling through in a thick fog of despair that many of us know so well. Knowing that, I wonder what I can achieve with the sun shining and the fog lifted.

After seven years, I still wake during the night reaching for him; I still pick up my phone to call him when something happens; and I still miss him. It still hurts. The loneliness and longing for human touch is still sometimes overwhelming, but the pain has lessened. Life does go on. I’ve always been independent and confident, but when I lost him, I lost myself too. I started worrying that I didn’t have anyone to help me with things. I remembered that I could do so much on my own. Sure, it is difficult, but it can be done. Life is what you make it.

Realistically, I know that when you love someone-you never completely overcome grief. However, I also know that life continues. Your world ends, but the world around you continues moving forward. Some describe the time after a loved one’s death as a “limbo.” That is a good description of widowhood. It’s as though you are suspended in time and unsure of whether you want to continue living. Fortunately, most do continue living.

I am tired of living in limbo. I am ready to step out of the fog and get to know the person I’ve become. I am an intelligent person. I know there will still be rough moments and difficult times, but I also know there are still smiles to share and memories to make. I’ve accomplished a lot during the last seven years, while consumed in a fog of despair so thick I thought I’d never escape. I can only imagine what I can accomplish without the fog and constant darkness that consumed me. It’s nice to have a partner to share life with, but it can still be meaningful, even when you’re alone. I’ll always love you, Doyle. It’s time to start a new chapter on my own. We made a great life together. Now, it’s time for me to make a life on my own. Life is what you make it.

Relinda

Simple Truths


“The path to paradise begins in hell.”
Dante Alighieri

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The beautiful colors with which the season once painted the world are now gray instead. New blooms that once reminded me that every little thing would be all right now lay silent.  The continual song the little birds compose outside my window once delighted my heart. I thought that surely no man could ever compose such perfect melodies. Now, their music means nothing to me. Their song lingers on as one constant bittersweet tune. Spring that once represented hope and promise for me now represents warmer weather and more mowing for me. I look out across the fields covered in wild flowers where dreams once thrived as though dipped in the paint of immortality, and I see flowers that will die and grass that will burn when the rain ends. Weekends that I once treasured for the time with my love by my side while we played in the warmth of the spring sun now mean only that I can slumber whenever I please. Every day is Monday for me. I hate Mondays. The anguish of grief comes from the truth in knowing that tomorrow will herald in more bad news. They often say, “The truth will set you free.” My comfort is the simple truth in knowing that spring, just as the other seasons, cannot last forever. I am free.

©2013 Relinda R.