Friday, May 22, 2009

The New Road

Starting over without your life partner is not easy. In fact, I am inclined to agree with what many say about ALS. It SUCKS!

The reality is, while he is never any farther from me than my own heartbeat, my best friend and life partner Bill will never again share my bed, tease me about my terrible joke telling skills, "handle" the bugs and rodents that occasionally show up or even send up his distinctive "meow" because I've wandered away from him in the grocery store and he can't find me. This, and oh so much more...I miss.

So...each and every day I have a choice. I can (attempt to) stay firmly rooted in the past, where it's familiar, where I would like to be. Where Bill and I were - together. I can stay in bed, under the covers, and let the world go on its merry way. I don't have to participate and you can't make me. (sound like a petulant 3 year old you know?!) I did in fact, choose this option in the first days and weeks following Bill's death. I can definitively tell you that it's dark and not particularly interesting under the covers!

So the only real option for me seems to be - put on my big girl knickers and a brave face, pack a snack and hit the new road. I've learned and come to appreciate, that if I am nothing else...I am resilient. I am not wired to live in the past....I live in the here and now. Unfortunately, I'm told that I make grieving look easy, or worse, that I didn't grieve at all?! For the record, I grieved along the way. Every day, some new bit of functionality was lost and Bill had to hand that off to me. Trust me, we both cried.

So the question is, how to keep the bravery going? Just as ALS has its own path with every patient, so the recovery path is different with every survivor. With Bill's passing, I knew that fundamentally I was different. But when I looked in the mirror, I saw the "same" me. I would get tripped up and start the crying all over again. And we all know what that looks like! After a good cry, you can't breathe, your eyes are red and swollen, your nose is runny and red from blowing, you have a raging headache and in general...look/feel like crap! Great!? How would I ever break the cycle?

For me, it was a change in haircolor. I will forever be grateful to my hairdresser, and good friend Alisa who mixed her magic and transformed me from blonde to the red I should have been born with. This one small change put me on the firm road to recovery. We did not get the red "right" the first time, but the change was transformative. Each time I looked in the mirror, I literally saw a new person. In time I began to think differently. I began to act differently and with each baby step, I got stronger and more confident in my new path. It's not always easy, but each day it gets easier and I have never looked back. Thank you are a genius!

SPECIAL NOTE: DO NOT TRY THIS ON YOUR OWN! Seriously. If you choose to make a significant change with your haircolor, go to a trained, certified colorist. Get recommendations and spend the money to have it done right.

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