I’m often asked what the worst part of this journey is, and at this point, I can honestly say it’s the loneliness.
Not everyone is blessed to have family or their closest friends living close by. I have good friends here in town, but we’re all still at that age where there’s work, family commitments, and let’s face it, they still have their spouses. Some even still have kids at home, or they have grandkids already.
Again, I’m not looking for sympathy. This is just yet another part of this journey.
I hear all the time, “At least you still have your son at home with you.” True, but this is his time. He’s a young adult. He has his entire life ahead of him. It’s not his job to worry about me, hang out with me, or even attempt to take the place of his dad by doing things around the house. It’s simply not his responsibility. Does he help out? Thankfully, yes! He’s proven time and again that he learned a lot from his dad, and there’s not much he can’t do. He’s also proven that he’s learned from me. He’s a really good cook! But when I was his age, I was beginning my first year of teaching! All of life is ahead!
The flip side of that coin is finding the time to do everything that must be done while rebuilding a new life. As stated before, not everyone gets a windfall financially when their spouse dies. For me, I was in transition between jobs at the time of his unexpected death. I’ve wound up in an unexpected, though good fitting, position that requires me to work an average of 45 hours a week. This means I have to pretty much be available seven days a week, as there are programs offered every day and I’m the boss. Not to complain, but I don’t typically get a usual weekend. I still have responsibilities with the company I own. Consequently, I work full days on Saturdays. Some may see that as a choice, however, I don’t renege on contracts and I need that income. So, that leaves Sundays for things like groceries, paying bills, yard work, and whatever else needs to be done.
Which leads back to the conundrum of loneliness. It’s a double-edged sword of responsibility and loneliness. Am I ready to move forward, have fun, and laugh again? Yes. Can I afford it? Not so much, unless it’s things that don’t cost, like hiking or free concerts, etc. Do I have time? Some would say to make time, but what at cost? How does one make extra hours in a day to do it all? Taking time means paying for it later.
I’ve found the best I can do is to plan, plan, plan. I know that, unless something major happens, I probably won’t ever have the luxury of retirement. I do, however, have control over some things, and choices to make. I don’t have to live here. I’m free to make decisions about my future, and to pursue different options and career paths. I could choose to move closer to friends or family. I could choose to change professions yet again, although at my age, that’s a scary, although possible, thought.
Whatever happens, and however I choose to face these days, it’s a choice I must make alone.