Through These Eyes Essay, Research Paper
Aging in the Family
Professor Susan Levy
Through these Eyes
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. This is what my husband told me on our wedding day. That wonderful, beautiful day was the first day of the rest of my life too. God, how I miss him. I never expected life to be like this. I never expected to live this long?this way. Today I am seventy-six years old. This journal was a gift from my beloved Christopher on my 75th birthday last year. He joked and said I could tell this book all of my secrets now because his hearing was so poor. This is my first birthday as a widow, and this is my first birthday alone. My husband passed away last month at the age of seventy-nine. I have no family anymore. He was my family.
I remember as a child, I would celebrate my birthdays with my parents and brother. At my sixth birthday party, shortly before Daddy died, I remember the dollhouse that he made for me. It was so beautiful. He used to call me his ?little princess? and said the dollhouse was my castle. That is my fondest memory of my father. After Daddy passed on, I remember how upset my mother was, her eyes so sad?so dull. They simply stopped shining. I couldn?t understand then what she was feeling, but I understand now. Mother did eventually re-marry. She was so young though, and I am not. I feel so empty, and it hurts to realize that this is the first day of the rest of my life.
Today I cleaned out Christopher?s closet, and all of his clothes still smelled of him. I touched his favorite shirt and longed to have his body fill its vacancy. When I closed my eyes and held his clothes near, it felt as if I was touching him. In my mind I can still hear his voice; it is clear as a bell. I hear his answers to my questions, concerns, and complaints. I still hear him say to me, ?Now Angel (that was his nickname for me) don?t let your pretty self get worked up about all this nonsense. Be strong for me now. You?re my fighter.? His favorite saying was ?things have a way of working themselves out.? Christopher always said that I was strong-willed, but dear God! I cannot be strong right now. He was my strength. I don?t know that I really knew that until right now, but he was my strength.
I should not be mourning. I had fifty-six years with a wonderful man who loved me very much. I should be grateful, not sad. What is wrong with me? Why can?t I pick myself up and get out of this rut? I am so tired. Betty, from Bridge Club, called and wants me to meet with the ladies next week. She says that they all miss me on Monday nights (miss winning is all). Most of the ladies who go to the Center are widowed too, but they seem to handle their loss so much better. Didn?t they love their husbands as much as I loved Christopher? Yes, of course they did. It?s just me. I need to be stronger. I just wish I wasn?t so tired.
I feel so angry. I am overwhelmed with the details of my life that Christopher used to handle. Taking out the trash, locking the house, paying the bills, calling repair people?who can remember all of this? I have to take a taxicab everywhere I go, and this has been the most difficult adjustment for me. Christopher always drove us everywhere. I sometimes wish that he had taught me to drive, this would have made things so much easier now. I wish that I had known he was going to die. No, no?I shouldn?t think such things. It?s just that we planned for the financial security of his death, but I never knew that it would be so difficult to do the everyday things. For fifty-six years my husband has looked after certain details of my life, and now, he is gone. I am so frustrated because I feel so utterly helpless. Yesterday, I couldn?t even reach the oregano in the spice cupboard! I had to stand on a chair to retrieve it. In the past, Christopher would always get the things in high places for me. Oh, dear diary. I wish so badly that this void in my life were not here. I miss my husband.
The arthritis in my knee is acting up today. I am scared, very scared. Who is going to take care of me when I cannot take care of myself? I have no family anymore. I have no one. I sometimes regret our decision not to adopt children. We figured that if God wanted us to have a child, He would have given us a child. But sometimes, I feel God?s message might have been that there were plenty of unwanted children in the world, and we should have taken one. I can?t think too much about that though, what?s done is done. One day I am going to die, this is inevitable. I just don?t want to do it alone. Death shouldn?t scare me, but it does. I remember being younger, so carefree. It wasn?t too long ago that these old knees could run without worry, in fact it was only yesterday in my mind. I wish I could turn the time back. I am afraid of being alone.
I went out last night for the first time since Christopher?s death. Betty has been calling me for a couple of weeks to attend Bridge, so I decided to pacify her persistence and go. It was nice to see the ladies; almost all of them attended with the exception of Kathryn, who is feeling under the weather. I laughed a lot. I didn?t realize it until I got home, but for the first time since Christopher?s death, I wasn?t thinking about him all throughout the evening. I can?t believe that I went out and did not remember him! I feel very sad and angry with myself. My husband is dead, and I am out on the town laughing. I feel like I should have been at home. Actually, I don?t know how I should be feeling these days. My husband was seventy-nine years old. He lived a good life, and he had a peaceful death. I just don?t understand why I can?t let go. Christopher would want me to live my life still, and he would want me to be happy. It?s just so hard to live my life without him. It?s so hard to find the energy to press on. I want to keep going. I?ve got to keep going.
I went to church this past Sunday. I have not been since Christopher died, and even then we never really attended service regularly. Pastor Johnson was very receiving of me. He is always so insistent that I come see him on Sundays, and he did such a nice job with Christopher?s funeral that I figured I should attend. I enjoyed seeing some familiars faces, and even some new ones for that matter. I think I will visit again next Sunday. Betty is picking me up this evening for Bridge. I am going to bring a cake for the ladies, it is an interesting recipe I found in the Southern Living magazine. I hope they like it.
Today has been a very difficult day for me. This is my first Fourth of July without Christopher. I am missing him terribly today, and I want to do nothing but cry. There is a celebration service at the church tonight, but I don?t want to go. I don?t want to do anything. I still see his face, hear his voice, and smell his breath. I know that sounds strange, but his breath had a scent. Sometimes I will be out somewhere and all of a sudden I?ll smell him. The other day, I was in JC Penny shopping for new bed linen and I thought I saw the backside of him. I know that my husband is dead, but for a split second, I allowed my mind to play this trick on me so that I might feel the joy of his presence again. The strange thing is, I have never dreamed about Christopher since his death, not even once. I certainly wish though that I could visit with him in my dreams. I long to see him. I suppose though that he knows I would spend all of my time sleeping if this were the case, and no time awake. He knows me too well. However, I think I will go to sleep early tonight. The sooner my eyes shut, the sooner this day can end.
I got a job today! I can?t believe it. I will be working at the church media center on Wednesdays from 9:00a.m. ? 400 p.m. and on Sundays from 8:00am ? 1:00pm.
I have never worked in my whole life! I have volunteered in the past, but I will actually be getting paid for this! Pastor Johnson called me yesterday and asked if I could meet with him to discuss some things. I was certain that he just wanted to speak in regard to the loss of Christopher, to see how I was feeling (i.e. coping). We have been meeting the past few months for a counseling session once a week to discuss these issues. When I arrived, however, he asked if I would be interested in working at the church! Can you believe it? Me! I feel like I am twenty years old right now. I will be working with another lady named Jane, who is very nice and also a widow. My job will begin next Wednesday morning at 8:30 sharp. I?ve got to arrive early so that we can make sure everything is perfect before we open. Christopher would be amazed to see me. He always said, ?things have a way of working themselves out.? I am certain that he is smiling down on me from heaven right now.
I started my new job today. It was very exciting. Jane is a lovely lady. She is only sixty-two years old and a widow of seven years. Her husband died when he was fifty-seven years old from a heart attack. She was left all alone with two children, and the whole experience was quite devastating for them all. We shared a lot about the way we cope with the loss of our husbands. It was so nice to talk with someone who truly understands. Betty and many of the other Bridge ladies are widows too, but we simply don?t discuss our emptiness with one another. Bridge night is a time to laugh and enjoy each other?s company. We don?t talk about death, but we are all very aware of its gripping reality. With Jane, however, it is quite different. We can speak openly to each other because there is only two of us. Plus, the media center is small and quiet, so we talk a lot while we work. My job is very interesting and there is so much to do, as the books are very disorganized. I see now why they needed me to come and work there. Pastor Johnson said that my gift of organization would be a real asset to the media center, and after what I?ve seen today, I am inclined to agree.
I went to the doctor today. My health is good according to Doctor Martin. My knee is still giving me an awful time though. He prescribed some more pain reliever and suggested some strange sounding home remedies. Perhaps I will give them a try. He said that I have lost 34lbs since Christopher?s death. He informed me that this is very normal, that many widows lose weight. The holidays are just around the corner and I am trying to keep busy these days. Jane invited me to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. I am so grateful for my friendship with her. I have not given her an answer yet on whether or not I will attend. She thinks I am being silly about the whole thing. I just don?t know if I would be comfortable in a strange house during the holidays?or much company for that matter. She is sweet to offer just the same. The weather is beautiful today. Christopher loved the fall. I miss him.
Kathryn, from Bridge club, died last week. I attended the funeral with Betty. Although her health had been poor this past year, it was an unexpected death; she passed on in her sleep. Kathryn was seventy-six years old, same as me. The whole event of her death, the funeral parlor, smelling the fresh flowers, seeing the people mourn?all of it?it was simply more than I could handle! Much too soon I think. I couldn?t leave though because I had driven to the funeral parlor with Betty. God, it was so difficult for me. I felt the opening of Pandora?s box, and many of my old feelings from Christopher?s death began to resurface.
But the strangest thing happened that day. I went outside to get some fresh air?to get away from it all really. And while I was standing by the side entrance outside, I noticed a young mother with her child. The little boy could not have been much older than the age of two; he was so precious. The mother explained that her son was much too feisty for inside. ?Yes, I know the feeling,? I answered half jokingly. The mother then said something that I will never forget. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, ?Don?t worry, death is never the end.? And then her husband came out and they left. Her statement was not profound, it was not new information for me. But the way she said it?the way she looked right at me, it was as if God was talking directly to me through that young mother. The really strange thing was that my fear and anxiety subsided. It just went away. I was able to go back into the funeral parlor, and for the first time, in a long time, I wasn?t overwhelmed. I am no longer afraid of dying. It?s as if I found a new freedom, a new peace. Dear Diary, it feels incredibly good to have peace.
I have decided to go to Jane?s house for Thanksgiving. In all honesty, there is a part of me that wants to stay home and be alone. It is so much easier to feel sorry for myself. Christopher always said that I was ?his fighter? though, strong-willed. Dear God, please give me inner strength this week. Inside, I want to cry, and I want to be alone. No, that?s not true?I want my husband back! I can do this though?I?ve gotta get through this.
I am a fighter, and more importantly, I am fully alive.
I went Christmas shopping with Jane today. My knees were giving me an awful time, but I had fun just the same. It was difficult to see the people, the presents, the decorations everywhere. I refuse to let myself get sad though. I made up my list of people to buy for last night, and I finished all of my shopping in just one afternoon! I bought Pastor Johnson a lovely bookmark that is made of leather, I think he will like it. This is the first year that my house will not have a Christmas tree, as Christopher always put it up for us. There?s no use in decorating; it?s just not the same this time of year without him. I?m not going to let myself get sad though. I always knew that life without my husband would be difficult, but holidays without Christopher seem unbearable. ?Tis the season to be with family?. But Lord, he was my family and my joy.
I am a creature of habit though; that?s all. Pastor Johnson says, ?you can?t change the world, but you can always change your perception of it.? I think that he is right, I just wish I knew how to change it.
The arthritis in my hands is acting up again. It?s difficult to write too much for too long. I have learned so much these past nine months. I still miss my husband, but I am slowly finding new meaning in a world that I must face alone. This morning when I looked in the mirror, I didn?t see me?not how I usually do anyway. Like most people, I look in the mirror everyday, but I had never really looked at the object in the mirror. Today I did, and I studied the woman who stared back at me. And do you know what I saw through these eyes? I did not see the woman who I have been in the past, and strangely enough I did not see the woman that I was today. But rather, I saw the woman that I want to become. I stared in the mirror for a very long time, just studying what I saw before me. Then the silence was shattered. I heard the woman say, ?Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.? I laughed out loud and said, Yes! Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life!