Two days after Christmas 2005 – just over four years ago – I lost the greatest love of my life when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack while driving home in our van. At the time, the news and the manner in which it was delivered to me was unbearable, unacceptable and horribly painful. It was the worst pain I have experienced in my life to date and I will never entirely recover.
However, we are not meant to recover from our great losses. We simply learn again – day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year – to find ourselves again amidst the ruins of our lives. All the while, our loss hangs like a giant bell in the bell tower of our hearts and each smaller loss causes it to ring again. It may resonate just a little or a lot, depending upon the degree of the new loss although no loss will ever make it ring as it did on that day. And with time, the bell becomes less resonant eventually sounding only slightly. Or, perhaps, we simply learn to tolerate the tolling of the bell. In any case, we learn to continue and find some happiness again.
I’m at that stage where the ringing is far less and I’m finding as I look out my window on this beautiful, sunny day in Alameda, that I’m looking forward once more to what life may offer.
The last loss which really caused the bell to toll – more loudly than I realized at the time – was that of my job with an employer I loved. It was a job I had held for over 20 years and I somehow thought it couldn’t really ever end. At least, that’s how I denied the looming probability that the worlds current great recession was going to hurt my employer more than any of us wanted to believe. I quickly made preparations to hunker down for the long haul because I knew how bad it was out there for someone nearing 60 years old and I shrank my life down into something I thought was manageable and tried my best to live somewhat within my means – after spending way more than I should have in a raging fit of denial! It would be months before I poked my head out of my shell and took a serious look at the job market.
During those months, I found new strength in relationships with my friends and family and joined various groups to help me through with music, song, dance and art. Then Christmas came and I visited my family in the Midwest only to be given a serious wakeup call to the fact that time was still, indeed, racing along. I had returned home with my tail somewhat between my legs with the illusion that I could always go home again if things got worse. I found it was soon to become my turn to be supportive and that really turned things around for me.
Finally, I’m back! Since returning I have delved headlong into the job market only to find that possibilities for work are still there. I am even considering changing my career if necessary. I’m happier than I have been in the past four years and I feel like my old self is still there and for all this, I am very grateful.