Watching my much loved husband be consumed with Parkinson's Disease took all the emotional energy I could muster, especially during his last four years of life. If asked to describe myself, I would have said I was happy but sad, fun-loving but stressed, calm of spirit but frazzled. I would have said I was the same person I'd always been, even though knowing I was losing my husband to a disease distressed me on the deepest level of my being. I would have said my sense of humor remained intact.
But I would have been wrong.
In the deepest part of me, I realized that this would be the first Christmas that I would have fun. That I would honestly laugh. That I could again be part of the family party rather than an outsider looking in. That is what my mind was dwelling on when it suddenly hit me that I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt like this. It was such a startling revelation, I stopped and asked the Lord, "How long have I been lost and didn't know it?"
What I did realize is that the Lord had hidden the truth from me, lest I lose heart and falter along the way, giving in to debilitating grief at watching Jim deteriorate before my eyes. I understood that I'd been dealing with life a day at a time. Sometimes a minute at a time. I understood everything that faced me as a caregiver. But I wasn't cognizant one little bit that I had slowly changed into a different person.
From that day on, the joy has remained. The fun and laughter are as though they never left. The joking and teasing are again part of my being. Everyday is full of adventure. Filled with fun. My new crafting friends drop by often and we still meet every Tuesday evening to work on our latest endeavors and help one another with things that need to be finished quickly. We named ourselves The Snail Trail Crafting Ladies simply because all of us are desperately slow in getting where we're going. Mostly because of all the artificial knees or hips or disagreeable spines or feet that sometimes do our bidding and sometimes not. We laugh at ourselves. It adds great joy to my life to be with those who are like me, widowed or left alone, who lean on one another for help and get done what needs to get done. We are becoming a family.
I realized the change had been complete when all of the widow blogs I always used to read no longer appealed to me. In fact, they saddened me to what I was and no longer wished to be. Yes, I'm still a widow. Yes, I'm still alone and intend to stay that way--unless the Lord has cloned Jim, which I think unlikely. Yes, I'm happy. You bet I'm busy quilting and knitting and sewing--what with 4 kids, 7 grandkids, and two sisters to make presents for.