Today, the story reads: The window is empty of the man who once stood there watching me tend my garden. I live with my two youngest children & an old cat. Bleeding hearts grow on the patio. I am loved & I love in return. The demonstrative notion of happiness is my pursuit. Somedays I find it in abundance.
By February's end I recognized the performative act of the state we call "marriage" cannot be carried by one person alone. Mid-March, I let go of the weight of my dual role & accepted that my own union had come undone years before. It unraveled the morning Mr. PNU woke thru no fault of his own with a clot lodged in his carotid artery. The ties had largely separated by that same afternoon. I didn't know. But who does? Who knows the right & wrong of these situations? Instead of grieving I coped my way through two years of script where I took my own cues & his. I wrote our lines, each of our acts. I went through the motions of two players until they had become one role: star & supporting actress. The reception, warm & enthusiastic, kept the play on stage. I embraced the title: pleaser. But found little in the accolades that pleased me.
Who holds the yardstick by which I am measured? Whom else could have done better, or differently? I remember a man in my hometown whose wife fell to early onset alzheimer's. When he eventually put her in a home, divorced her & went on to remarry, my mother was a pincushion of disdain. I know what's being said of me without hearing the words.
When Mr. PNU left in March with his parents, we missed him only as much as a heavy presence that no longer occupied the southwest bedroom. The work abated & the children calmed. I bumbled through the experimentation of self again. A month later, the aches and pains of this house settle. The dryer hums. The cat sleeps in the recliner. Lights are only as dim as necessary for comfort. It is nearing ten o'clock & my own person's thoughts are not extinguished by the repressing requirement of staying mute.
I know the narratives by which I am judged. I wandered mountain paths for months of the past year, praying until the answers became clear that my lifelong spiritual narrative was filled with plot holes. The uncertainty that filled this space is supremely more comforting than the explanation molds into which I can no longer pour myself. Letting go offers me a free fall into practicing the ethics of self-care. As has been shared in the past month: Selfishness is attempting to get others to do what you want. Doing what you need to do for yourself is self-care.
Grieving is intermittent. I've released the man I married in increments each day, expecting less & less that he would ever return, until the day came that I was able to accept that he will not. The man who is left deserves to be cared for by professionals rather than a wife for whom he can never fill expectation, desire, or to whom he can never be a companion. The man who is left deserves not to be resented. When he comes to that realization a weight will lift for him as well.
I release him. I release myself. The world is a cluster of ends & beginnings. Like a train car, I want to hold & deliver, encase & be drawn. I want to receive adornment & fleck off rust, paint. I want to be stroked by pampas grass & cattails. I yoke & unyoke, link up & find myself untethered. I dance & stand solitary in spaces.
I want to dance & wait my turn.
I want to dance & wait my turn.
The future is a new possibility; one I thought gone. I am living by small measure more & more each day, remembering who I was, who I've been. I continue to look for the light against the shadow. Hope reawakens like a green nub pushing through the soil. All things buried bubble up.
I open my heart & find long-cocooned wings.