Thursday, November 04, 2010

What Happens When You Take Time Away ...

Time alone has given me a much greater ability to reflect lately. My wife, Jennifer (better known as Jen), died unexpectedly just a little over two months ago. Jen and I met over six years ago, in March of 2004, shortly after I moved to Cincinnati from Lima. We didn't meet in a particularly "conventional" way for that time period, using the website eHarmony to be matched. A friendship and bond was made and is one I didn't expect to happen as quickly as it did.

I am not using my blog to reflect on the experience of dating, the time of engagement, the wedding itself, the years of marriage ... because in the greater reflection of time, it all feels like it happened almost instantaneously. From the first real date we had on April 2, 2004, until the last day my wife was alive on August 21, 2010, so many things happened. Personally and professionally, I started jobs, I ended jobs, I had bad stretches of unemployment ... my career with oftentimes little direction. Jen's career was stable right up to the point of our actual time to be married, but then her teaching life was never the same again in finding a full-time position after being non-renewed without a valid reason. I continued to work in mostly engineering capacities while she had to accept the role of substitute teaching. I knew her heart wasn't in the work (not having a class to call her own), but she did it anyway, building great experience, learning new things, and endearing herself to so many people.

This school year was going to be different. In the effort to push forward with her Masters degree and to get back into a potential full-time role, she was planning to babysit the children of teachers she knew from the elementary school. Unfortunately, this never came to pass, as school started the week after Jen's death.

I don't know where life was going to lead my wife, but I know she would have finished her degree and become an amazing teacher in special education. I don't know where our life together was going to lead, given my own work track record and not being the husband I wish, in hindsight, I could have been. My own self-reflection of marriage had nothing to do with faithfulness (as we were nothing but faithful to each other) but of my poor ability to be a better communicator of my needs, a poor listener of her needs, and to be a more effective partner in the relationship.

I took for granted that life could be so short, that things could literally change overnight. There was no chance to say "goodbye" because I never expected there to be a need. We both went to sleep, only I awoke and she did not. To this day, I still don't know what took her from me, but all I know is that she's gone.

I questioned the meaning of life before my wife passed, and I question it more now. I question why events like these happen with no reason. Is life merely a game of "chance" and any moment could be our last? The sad but true answer seems to be "yes" ... any moment in time *could* be our last. Something as simple as "live like we're dying" takes on a different meaning now ... although I'm not moving any faster on the "bucket list" or to accomplish major tasks any faster. Death may be imminent or it might be distant ... I really don't know. None of us knows the day it will end because we each have a different clock. Some clocks run longer than others. Some clocks seem to break unexpectedly while others run seemingly without fail.

Habitually, I tend to ramble, and this entry is probably no different than most I have entered. The only exception is that this one comes at a different point in life, where my perspective on things has changed fundamentally. I don't view the world the same today as I did only 11 weeks ago, and I find sadness and doubt where I thought I used to find joy and solace.

I am sure that I will regain the footing that I feel I have lost. I am sure that things will move forward and I will move with them. Realistically, I don't have a choice. I could live in the past or move forward to the future -- the choice seems an obvious one even if it is hard to do. I am honestly not certain what future I want or what goals / aspirations I have other than simply taking each day as it comes, opening myself to opportunities that present themselves, and not closing myself off to what life might bring. I don't think that Jen would want me to live that way because she herself said she aspired to a life of "no regrets" even if there certainly were regrets along the way. Now, I have to learn to do the same.

To paraphrase and close, this new journey has to begin with a single step ... even if there is no particular destination in mind, enjoy the ride there.

1 comment:

Mr. Blackburn said...

Damn...heavy stuff. Sorry for your loss.