autumn days

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Fine Lines of Before and After

There is a fine line between before and after for my family and for others like us.  For me there are two large lines dividing my life into three segments.  There is the life before the diagnosis, the life of struggling for survival with the diagnosis, and the life with devastating loss.  For my family, we had four months and one week between diagnosis and death.  My last twelve months have been neatly dissected into one third part "normal every day life", one third holding onto my partner and children as my partner tried to survive a devastating illness, and one third of my year has been lived without the daddy of my children.

Before diagnosis day, my partner and I made time to talk and connect, to go on dates with each other, host backyard barbecues, and to spend days leisurely playing at the beach.  Diagnosis day changed everything.  Beach trips became medical emergencies, we were racing against the clock to find a solution to our biggest challenge, and our sole focus was his survival.  Focusing with pinpoint attention on survival, we invested everything into keeping my partner here to raise his children.  He went into every step of his treatments for his children.  While focusing upon survival, we lost many things.  We lost the time to say goodbye.  We lost our shared plans and dreams for our future together.  He lost his life.  I lost my life partner.  Most unfortunate, our children lost their beloved, extraordinary daddy.  The time of his death was where we tipped over the fine line into our "new normal."

I find my own psychology so entertaining.  As an example, within my own experience I've noticed the difference in relationships I have from "before" and "after" my partner's death.  The people in our circle before my partner's death feel safe, secure, comforting, and grounding.  The relationships I've begun after his death feel less safe and secure.  A part of me isn't trusting these new people.  They haven't met my partner's approval on which I so easily depended.  It feels as though a part of me is still living in the before time and holding onto my before life, without letting the new life in freely.  I am a ship at sea learning to navigate without my usual tools.  I've built a dam to hold off true connections with new people.  I wonder at which point it will feel safe to let new people in, when I will fully trust my own judgement.  In the meantime, I am deepening my relationships with those in my "before" circle, investing in what I want to grow.  We are blessed with many wonderful people in our lives.  In moving through life after death, I wonder when I will truly embrace this new life.  It will happen slowly without fanfare.  Just as it is meant to be.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to take this little snapshot of where I am in this phase of grief.  Now that I have witnessed my truth, I can let it go and welcome in the next phase.  Change is constant, so I know my snapshots will continue to shift.  My children will continue to grow and expand, as will I.  My blessings will continue to grow with my intentional awareness.  What an adventure!  What a gift to get to live this life!

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