Thursday, June 18, 2009

I've been occasionally reading Matt Logelin's blog, and tonight it's had me thinking about the changes in my life since I lost Karl. I went through some pictures, and found two that gave a pretty good idea of before and after...

A lot of my pictures with Elliot looked like this - me shooting in a mirror, because Karl was either working or cooking or keeping up with the house or entertaining guests or generally living. I was in charge of documenting it. I like to pretend the current disaster at home is because of my new single-mom status, but really if you look behind us you can see it there - clutter and chaos already ruled the roost. There's maybe four photos on the 'Family Wall', a project we both kept meaning to get around to. We're a little blurred, maybe from the pace of life last summer, which was happy-go-lucky and full of fun. Then...

After two weeks of arrangements, sympathies, plans, confusion, shock, grief, and more outpouring of emotion than an introvert like myself knows how to process, we looked like this. Karl was gone. I took to wearing both of our rings for a while. I still wear his, which fits my middle finger. I started to worry that I'd lose the stone from mine - irrational, maybe, because we had designed it to be strong. For a few weeks there, I didn't document anything. One day to the next, I just did what needed doing, and felt like this wasn't a time I wanted to look back at too much. I'm grateful now that somebody did pick up the camera and catch Elliot and I napping. I know I passed him around a lot those first few weeks, but the only time I felt whole enough to sleep with any peace was when I held him.

It's strange - I remember thinking certain things would be burned in my mind, and some of them are. I stared at the carpet at the hotel for a long time, and I thought for sure I'd see it in my sleep, but all I remember now is a vague burgundy with some geometric pattern. I do remember the chicken taco salad, and the waiter who never brought me my change. I remember sitting in the bathtub in my room while Jen was downstairs with another friend of Karl's. I kept my shirt on - I don't know if I was feeling cold or modest, or if it was a need to feel prepared to flee, not to feel too vulnerable. I remember trying to comfort Jen, who had just lost her best friend of many years, and feeling like her pain was more than mine, because he'd only been my best friend for three. I still feel like that a lot with Karl's friends and family - that I'm not so worthy of their generosity and concern, because their loss was great too.

Then I think about the real difference: They lost a past, I lost a future.

Not the whole future, just the one we had planned. I'm making new plans now, but still with him in my mind. Part of me still tries to do things that make him happy, if only because they make me remember how happy we were.

I've made it nearly a year now. One of the many sites I've visited since becoming a widow suggested not making any major decisions for the first year. Part of me thinks that's wise, but another part of me went out and adopted a puppy. Not a major life decision? You go adopt a puppy, and see if your opinion changes. I'm so grateful to Jim G for saying "I think it's a PERFECT time for you to get a puppy!" I wonder if he knew that everybody else looked at me like maybe I was a little out of my mind...

Speaking of Finley, he's miserable in his crate at the moment. It's bizarre that one time I'll put him in for bed and he'll doze off happily, and the next he'll cry for an hour. It doesn't seem to correlate to how much he played or slept in the day - he just does what he does.

So he'll fit in here just fine.


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