I spend a lot of time sitting here at the computer feeling lonely. Well nothing new about that, I've been doing that for the past two years since Ray went into the hospital then the nursing home and more so since he died last September. I am just more lonely now as the truth that he is NEVER coming back bites. He is NEVER coming back. He is not gone for a while, for a week, a month or a year. He is gone FOREVER.
In a way it is worse since I came back from England. For one thing there is no-one to tell about the six weeks I was there. I can talk to the kids but 20 minutes and their eyes glaze over. I have just got the photos, Trevor downloaded them for me, and now I can see the trip all over again. I am not a good photographer. I just take photos of things that take my fancy, seem unusual or peak my interest. I also take lots of photos of plants, trees, gardens, individual flowers in the hope that it will inspire me to emulate the great gardens of Enlgand! As if that is going to happen. But at least I have the photos if not the reality. And come Spring I will work on a new plan for the garden. Who said a change is as good as a holiday? Wrong. But it is good to feel in control by making the changes yourself, to your own plan.
Loneliness is reality we all have to live with. I can put off the loneliness while I am in company, working in the garden, volunteering, mixing with friends and family but sooner or later I come back home and there it is again. I can go out and visit with our remaining friends, lapping up the company, enjoying the interaction, but sooner or later I have to walk back in the door alone. I know now why people have a houseful of cats or dogs or birds, it is to have someone greet you when you get home. It is so you step into the noise of companionship rather than the silence of aloneness that is so hard to take.
It is the season for going around Australia here so a lot of my pleasant acquaintances that I count as friends are still away. We Aussies flee the winter, the blustery days like today. A lot of Australians go off overseas to avoid the desolation of winter. The retired couples go around Australia in their campervans and set up a temporary home in a more tropical climate, coming back about October when it is warm here again. I know there is the telephone but these days when most people have a mobile (cell phone) I am in contact with so few of them. Though I do see their happy camping photos on Facebook.
Do I feel envy? Yes I do feel sometimes that life has somehow cheated me of our planned " happy retirement". Once Ray and I would had planned to do that trip as part of our retirement. Now I cannot do it alone. At 66 it is too late to make up for the years Ray and I lost due to his many strokes. It is unrealistic to expect that I can replace them. Even if Ray had lived his invalidity would have prevented that happening. Do I feel robbed? Yes I do. And yet I have so much to be thankful for and I know that somehow I have to lean toward the thankful side to rebalance my life again.
My family are busy with their own lives and that is the way it should be. Ray and I went through our married life hardly aware sometimes of the loneliness of our ageing parents. When we lived at a distance I rang once a week, sent letters and cards, we rarely visited them using the excuse that they had each other for company and their own lives to live. I think if I had known how lonely the nest can be once the fledglings have gone I might have been a little more attentive, maybe visited more often. But you cannot live life backwards. What is the solution? Who knows? Maybe there is something in treating others the way you would like to be treated?
What is the formula for getting over the death of a spouse? Are there ten step programs to follow? My remaining friends say: "Keep busy". I do keep busy but life is somewhat hollow. I could be the perfect housewife (unlikely in one with a personality like mine), take up good works (costs money to travel out each day to do whatever is considered a good work these days) or take up some new hobbies like music or painting. My Mum painted in her middle years. She wasn't bad at it and I have some of her paintings hanging on my walls. I'm guessing she did it to fill in the time. She also kept a good garden, flowers and vegetables which is probably why I like to keep a garden too. She corresponded with a lot of people, I do emails and Facebook. She belonged to some organisations and made a contribution to them, just as I do in a different way. I guess there is a pattern to life, if we can't find one of our own we follow in our parents footsteps.
It is eleven months now since Ray died. I am slowly making the house my own. I am trying to make my life my own. I have a long way to go but at least I am making an attempt at it. I am trying not to dwell on past dreams, what might have been. I try to live in a way that I can be reasonably busy, so that I can handle the loneliness. Some days it is just right at the edge of my mind, my day filled with enough activitiy to hold the loneliness at bay. Other days, like today it is waiting at the bedside so my eyes open and there it is.