Being Found

During all the years of feeling lost after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I wondered how one restarted a life. I knew I couldn’t continue being a virtual nomad, knew I needed to go somewhere, but where? When you can go anywhere, how do you choose? And once you’re there, how do you start over?

Well, here I am, in the midst of my new life, and to be honest, I still don’t know the answer to my quandary. It’s as if I was lifted out of one life and plopped down in the middle of another, with no real transitional period.

Within just a few days of being in my new home, I made friends. Although many of the people I’ve met have lived in this area their entire life, they are not at all cliquish, but have welcomed me into their midst. And each acquaintance, each friend, has introduced me to others, so that I am building a strong base. It doesn’t seem as if I’ve been here less than four months. I’m right smack dab in the middle of . . . well, a life.

Recently, I ended up going on a train ride through the Royal Gorge sponsored by a senior group. The only way to see the gorge from below is by that train — the walls of the gorge are too steep to hike down, and at the bottom, there are only the engorged Arkansas River and the thin line of tracks.

As I was sitting on the train, staring out the window, I had a hard time making the mental adjustment from the desert to the river. It didn’t seem real. How did it happen, that such a short time ago, I was a somewhere else, and now I was here?

Mostly I don’t think about such things. I just go with the flow, though occasionally the miracle, the blessing of my current life — like the Royal Gorge — strikes me as being so very immense.

I once was lost, and now I have found myself living a life I could never have imagined. I always aspired to a simple life. Owning not much of anything.

I suppose in some ways I pictured my life as that Royal Gorge trip — traveling light, going with the flow, seeing what there is to see.

But the train stopped.

And now, when my peers are downsizing, I am upsizing. I never wanted to own a house — way too much responsibility! I never even wanted to own any furniture, and yet here I am, with a house full of furniture.

It makes me wonder how else the years of grief have changed me.

For the better, I would hope.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Feeling Like I’m Back in Kindergarten

I haven’t even been in town two months, and already I’ve started a brouhaha. It was an accident, but still . . .

I went to the senior center a couple of days ago for an exercise class, played dirty marbles (which is not at all what you gutter-minded folk think it is), and stayed for lunch. Since I walked, I had a hat and jacket, which I had placed on the table where I intended to eat. When lunch came around, that table was mostly full, and someone had shoved my stuff to the end where there was no chair. I asked if anyone minded if I moved a chair there so I could join them, and they all just stared at me as if they’d never seen me before, even though I had previously talked with most of them.

Refusing to give in to a childhood flashback, where no one wanted to sit with me, I just laughed and moved to another table where the occupants were waving me over. “You always have a place with us,” one of my dirty marbles friends said. “Good,” I said with a smile, “because that’s the second time they refused to let me sit at that table.”

It was a nothing sort of comment, but next thing I know, my dirty marbles friend and a woman from the other table were arguing, and the woman was slinging insults. By this time, I was thoroughly embarrassed. It hadn’t been that big a deal. Apparently, those women didn’t want a newcomer to sit with them (it couldn’t have been any reason but that, certainly nothing personal, because I have been all charm and smiles since I moved here!). Except for feeling a moment of discomfort, it didn’t really matter where I sat.

When the director came out to lecture everyone on being kind and welcoming to new faces, I wanted to sink into the floor. And afterward, she hugged me, and told me she hoped I would come again.

Well, I did go again. The next day, there was a meeting at the center about a planned outing to the Royal Gorge. I went to the meeting with a friend. She plopped her stuff down at the same table to which I had been welcomed and asked if there was room for one more. When the women noticed who the “one more” was, they laughed and said, “Pat is always welcome here.”

Then, of course, all the people at the table who hadn’t been privy to the episode had to be told the joke. And during the meeting, there was more talk from the director about being kind to new faces.

Sheesh.

I felt like I was back in kindergarten. Recess (exercise), cookies and milk, games, and being told to play nice.

At least this time, I am aware that the contretemps had nothing to do with me. The tensions had been in play long before I got there. My oh so innocent remark was simply the incendiary device that sparked long-standing animosities.

Perhaps the people who are nice to me have nothing to do with me, either, but are simply nice people. Still, I have already made a couple of lifelong friends, women with whom I instantly connected.

Life is good, and an occasional shark in the water merely brings out that goodness.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.