In my memory banks, there are two November 7ths that I spent with Mark. Our November 7, 1992 wedding, and the last anniversary we had together, in 2011, the day that Mark almost died. (Landmark anniversaries and new theologies)
Trauma recovery therapy has been doing a lot towards helping retrieve memories, and filling in the blanks. There’s more to come, and I will fit myself for the task. Recovery is not for sissies.
The first anniversary without Mark, I went solo to the lake where we were married and watched the last of a sunset. I didn’t cry much. Last year, I felt pressed to celebrate the day. I treated the boys and my BFF to an evening of batting cages and go-cart racing. Mark’s absence was palpable, insistent, but sorrow wasn’t allowed and no tears were shed.
This year there are buckets of tears. There is also screaming, punching, kicking, scratching, howling, walking, laughing, writing pages and pages, and dancing wild and singing my heart out, and any other form of release that comes to mind.
I feel the wave pressing on me, a scary, wounded, mournful rage. It feels awful, but I lean into it, working through it, writing it or speaking it, and releasing it from my body. Then, relief appears. Sometimes a drop, a pinhole of light, but relief. Hope. Light. Sometimes more tears come, a river, gentle.
This is the work at hand. The rule of trauma recovery work is that I can’t hurt myself, or anyone else. Otherwise, I get to go for it. I may have to buy a new mattress and pillows soon, though.
This is progress, this is healing after being stuck in a destructive pattern of held stress, overwork, and poor self-care.
I accomplished a lot in the last five years. Reinvented myself as a caretaker, ran a household, moved into the widowhood, worked two jobs, launched two boys into the world. Had some productions, including two full-length plays at theaters of note. I also stifled thoughts, gained weight, increased alcohol consumption, wrote very little, and felt almost nothing except depressed.
I turned loose of what makes me me. Mark died, but I abandoned myself.
A friend told me, “At first, the empty nest will mess with your head.” And how. Truth rings loud in an empty house. August to October was horrible. So the Dread Month November, by default, becomes the bearer of hope. Go figure.
My life is quiet and small. I have abandoned social media for solitude. For the first time in a long while, it seems that my feet are on a right path.
As it turns out, I’m still the mom. Or, as my sons like to say, “The Money Lady.” They come home, and we soon slip into our new/old routines. They are doing great so far, learning to make their way. I love that.
This November 7th, there’s a plane ticket with my name on it, to a place that I’ve never been, and a beloved friend to meet me there.
Here’s truth of my time as a married lady, as I know it today: some thirty years of my life is woven with true-found love, an enduring, passionate partnership, and friendship. Mark and Vicki went mostly hand-in-glove, with wiggly flames in our eyes, and bouts of falling to the floor laughing. We were a lucky, lucky, lucky pair of good eggs. I miss him terribly.