In my first few months as a widow I realised that parts of my path were going to feel painstakingly slow. Snail-like as I dragged myself onwards from task to task. Obstacle to obstacle. Retreating into my shell for rest and respite.
Yet, with all due respect to snails, I don’t think that snails have much fun or see much of the world! I didn’t want to just dwell, mourn and reflect. I wanted to positively parent our kids and focus on figuring out how to live and laugh again.
So once all the essential first year widow tasks were completed I decided to leave the remaining tasks to wait.
Trusting that when I was ready I would feel an impulse to clear out and declutter specific belongings and boxes.
I’m midway through my sixth year as a widow and Mick’s smaller mementoes, some of the medical notes and tax paperwork are almost untouched. They are laden with memories.
The mementoes remind me of Mick before cancer. The man that we lost. His passions and aspirations that are no longer.
The paperwork triggers painful emotions as I remember many angst-ridden appointments. Teetering between hope and reality.
When, I look at some boxes or open some drawers, my body recoils.
Well meaning friends and family offer to help but there are some things only a widow can do.
“No thank you” I say. “That box can wait. I will do it, just not yet”.
Sifting, sorting and questioning will be required.
What would Mick want the children to have in the future? What would the children like to have? What records do I still need to keep for tax and financial purposes?
It will be easier if I am full of light, energy and resolve before I face such a task.
A few evenings ago, I felt such an impulse. The kids and I had had a wonderful few days enjoying summer, splashing and frolicking in the water, playing with dear friends. I was energised and my heart was light. As I delved into my filing cabinets to find an appliance warranty my gaze was drawn to a whole drawer of paperwork that I have previously not been able to stomach. I sat down and started to sort and shred. The memories were intense but balanced by the joy and light in my heart. I made quick decisive progress working through folder after folder.
I went to sleep easily that night. Although I had spent the evening revisiting many bumps and twists from our cancer rollercoaster ride, I snuggled under the covers with a smile. Smiling, thinking of the all the dolphin like games that the kids and I had played in the past few days, yet also pleased that the snail within me had traversed another rock.
Maybe I will sift through the smaller mementoes soon!
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