It is 6am, the sun is just peeping over the horizon as I sit up in bed and write this post. My daily companions are beginning to arrive. They always come in the same sequence. Max and Maxine are colourful characters, bossy and always herald their arrival with a great deal of chatter as they bustle around my deck clearing away any debris collected from the day before. Not far behind Lady Gaga and companion appear and silently accept that they are about to be terrorised by the pair that preceded them. Then the general procession begins, Kookie and companions, poor arthritic Jack the eldest of them all, Butch Cassidy, Dotty and friend, Maggie and others. There is a great cacophony of sound and I rejoice in their beauty and companionship.
I’m sure my neighbours must think I have a house full of guests or maybe they just shake their heads as they hear their eccentric neighbour chatting to her feathered friends each morning. They have brought me such joy since the passing of my husband when I often felt alone.
Now that the agony of the past two years has passed, I reflect on the times when I didn’t want to be here. The pain was too great, and I remember one night when I thought that my heart would break, I cried out to the universe that I couldn’t bear it and I just wanted my life to be over. Then I heard the practical voice enter my head – “Well you just have to bear it – life must go on.”
Two years later, the fog has cleared and, whilst I am thankful for the experience of understanding what true grief feels like, I am glad that I can face this day with a grateful heart. The energy that it has taken to just put one foot in front of the other has been worth it. My ‘fake it till you make it’ approach has paid off. Lovely new people have come into my life. Unforeseen opportunities have come knocking at my door and, whilst there are of course still quiet moments of sadness, they are well and truly balanced with moments of joy and activity.
Sometimes I wonder if I have overfilled my life as I struggle to read all that I would like to read, including Starts at 60 articles. I endeavour to keep up, but in this technological age information comes thick and fast, and those interesting bits of information put aside for when there is time often remain unread. Still, I feel so lucky to have so many opportunities at this ripe old age. I made a remark to my daughter about something I planned to do when I was old and she replied that I seemed to forget that I am, at 72, considered to be quite old!
There is no doubt that the old adage of ‘laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone’ is a reality, and I hope through my own experience I can bring hope to others. I am enjoying the opportunities I am being given to speak, alone and also with my ‘twin sister’ Ande. When I introduce her as my identical twin it causes a stifled giggle and then she often follows up with, “Just remember, nothing is black and white – except us.”
I’m also enjoying being back in the corporate world, working with an executive team in a large company, who value the wisdom and knowledge that age can bring.
Now, as I welcome my daily companions that fly in briefly each morning and fill my life with beauty and exhilaration, I am thankful that they remind me that there is still so much to live for and that it is important for me to make the most of every moment. It has been good to reflect on this as I leap, well, maybe not leap, out of bed to face another new day.
How have you coped with the loss of a loved one? What changes have you made to your life?