So, the first anniversary of the Widowing has come and gone. Unlike my late wife I have survived, but the question remains: In what form? Who am I now?
I know it’s my obligation to be moving past the past, but the problem is, as Faulkner said, the past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.
Still, I know I can’t continue the way I’ve been, even the way I’ve been for the past year, nor would I want to.
Yet I can’t make a complete break with what came before, nor would I want to.
Let’s face it: I can’t continue to keep writing one finely crafted eulogy after another about how great my late wife was, and how bereft am I without her. It occurs to me that by this point, everyone I’d want to know this already knows it. Multiple condolences have been received, cards answered, sentiments registered.
Yet, it still wouldn’t be right to never mention Donna again. After all, she had an enormous effect on my life and I cherish so many memories connected to her.
Some of my friends assumed I’d be all verklempt over the anniversary, as if Donna had suddenly died all over again. An anti-birthday. Me, I thought the day would pass much the same as any other. The truth is I sort of feel relieved, as if I’d just completed a marathon. A grief marathon. Not that it’s over, but, just like completing the first year living in a foreign country (which I’ve done), it gives you a sense of the round of the year, the lay of the new land in all seasons. And a firmer footing than you’d previously had.
At this point, I know Donna isn’t coming back. Probably. And I’m still not happy about it, but I am…what’s the word…resigned. And even open to the possibility that things will, someday, get better.
As for my sons, after several roadblocks they seem to be holding up reasonably well as they approach their joint 12th birthdays (what’s generally assumed to be the last birthday of childhood; yikes). The older twin, Verbal and More or Less Neurotypical Boy, busies himself with riding his bike, which he’s recently learned to do for real, and at night occupies himself with his Playstation with a friend via a headset. Nonverbal Sensory Issues Boy has lately taken to sprinkling glitter and goo on the bathroom and office floors in the wee hours, which Donna took as a signifier of an incipient growth spurt. Otherwise, he’s generally the same happy camper he’s always been, playing his favorite videos, treating Little Einsteins as ’90s hip-hop artists treated turntables.
And so we beat on, condolence cards against the current, saying we’re all right, paddling two strokes forward, one stroke back, sailing ceaselessly into the next incarnation.