It took about two weeks to regain energy to get back to work. Dawn and Johnny went back to school almost immediately. I was alone. People were gone. Many people shy away when someone has cancer and when someone dies. They do not know what to say. I actually telephoned a friend during Don’s illness and said, “Where are you, Linda? I miss you.” Her response was, “I cannot handle seeing either of you right now, but I will be back when it is all over.”
Back at work, I spent time writing grants, doing budgets, and presentations when requested. Many wanted “Positive Thinking Seminars.” I kept trying to be positive for children, employees, seminars, and friends. Since I was on regional and statewide committees, I traveled in my work. I would leave at 4:00am and be at a Santa Fe meeting at 9:00am. Dawn and Johnny had to get ready for school. I would telephone to make certain they were up, but they were on their own as they attended school, extracurricular activities, such as band practices, cheerleading practices, and had dinner, etc. The meetings were usually all day, and I would be home late at night. We went to church and family events, but both had jobs, sometimes worked on Sundays, and could not join me. Since Don died, I looked the same, but was not. Church was difficult. I could hardly stand to be with a couple and turned down friends’ invites often.
When a female friend without her husband asked me to do something and Dawn and Johnny were out with their friends or at a school activity, I generally said “yes.” It was better than sitting at home by myself. I would leave and then want to be home. One time when I was gone a few hours, Johnny had a wreck. He was home alone when I got there. He was not hurt, but had to go through the pain of a wreck, talking to police, and the towing of his car. With no cell phones at the time, he could not reach me. He was barely 16. I felt bad when anything like this happened and I was to there. I would go somewhere, my children would come home and feel like I had disappeared even though I wrote a note. That affected them.
We tried to keep going without their Dad, so we went snow skiing a few weekends during the winter, something the four of us used to do and loved, and then I talked two women into forming a Co-Ed Scout Troop with me. We arranged to take our group to Philmont Scout Camp for an eighty-mile backpack trip in the early summer. That was challenging and fun!
I felt better on that trip. Back home I kept a smile on my face, but would take walks and think. Wondering why I kept feeling this way within, I looked for books that would help me. That was late 70’s and I could not find any that fit.
Lesson: Time helps. Give yourself permission to grieve. Pray and/or Meditate. Keep watching for the small things that bring relief from the aloneness feeling. Nurture yourself. Buy yourself a rose. Treat yourself to a special meal. Go to a movie. Make yourself your best friend.