September marked the most difficult time of my life. The 16th would have celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary; the 18th solemnized the second year of my Philip’s passing, and I lost our beloved home that Philip built and filled with everything I ever dreamt of having. But, without my Philippe’ I couldn’t make our exorbitant monthly payments. Our beautiful home was so underwater and yet the bank was unwilling to negotiate and help me save our home.
To add to my sadness, our precious 10-year old Maltese, Ziggy developed Diabetes. My poor puppy is no stranger to illness: when he was two he developed Grand Mal Seizures and had to go on liquid Phenobarbital to prevent his seizures; when he was four he acquired Congestive Heart Failure, in between he endured a knee surgery which turned out to be for naught, and one day two weeks before I moved he woke up blind! Unlike any of us he hasn’t whimpered or complained even once. He bumps into things, but keeps on going.
He doesn’t even whimper. He kisses me by the hour, which is much more than he has ever done and I must admit it worries me. After Philip died two years ago, Ziggy’s Vet gave him 6-months to live. I had a long talk with him and told him I needed him to pull a Philip. After all Philip too was given 6-months and he survived a lively 23-months! I think he understood because he has outlived his doctor’s proclamation by 2-years and 4-months.
So, here I am living in a new home. My first move ever on my own. The first home that is just mine. It feels oddly strange yet it also feels liberating. It’s a sweet, little home, just big enough for my two little pups and me. My neighbors are lovely and have made me feel quite welcomed. But admittedly, it feels peculiar to be middle-aged and on my own for the first time in my life. (Middle-aged! How did that happen? What does middle-aged mean anyway?)
I was 19 when I left my parents home and into the arms of a very wicked man. I endured that relationship for nine long years mostly because I refused to admit that my mother was right. However, as bad as it was, I have little regret. I learned a lot about me. I learned what I would accept in my life, and who I am as a woman. I learned too what kind of man I would never again have in my life. I learned that there are no mistakes in life. I learned that all of life is a learning experience; we just have to learn to recognize the experience.
Luckily for me, I learned my lessons well; I learned too that I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable if I wanted to find a man of worthiness. Vulnerability turned out to be a very valuable lesson indeed. It’s also a lesson I’ve tried to teach others, but it’s not one accepted with ease. Fear of hurt runs deep within us. Allowing the potential for hurt is not one that is easily overcome. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. If not for that experience I may not have recognized the beautiful man my Philip was.
I was never the woman who judged a man by his shoes, his fashion sense, or by his friends. Thank goodness since Philip’s and my first date wasn’t anything like the experts recommend. If you recall, he wore a pair of snap-fly paisley pajama pants! To this day it still makes me giggle.
I must admit since September, and slightly before when I learned my fate regarding our home, it became a time when I shed more tears than I care to recall. For the first time in my life I asked my doctor to please prescribe something to help me cope with my overall sadness. I was shocked by its effectiveness almost immediately. I became instantly aware of how others may find coping with the loss of a loved one insurmountable.
I’ve been very blessed with the graciousness of friends: Women who packed and lugged boxes; men who disconnected electrical fixtures and reconnected them in my new home. I even had a 78-year old woman who came to pack, and a very special friend who took a week off her work in North Carolina to help me pack. I feel blessed to have so many loving friends who care for me and love me. Somewhere along the way I must have done something right.
No one was judgmental or critical. All I felt was love and caring and sadness for my situation. So, here I am, in the first home that was ever just mine and I must admit I like it. I think Philip would like it for me as well… I had a dream the other night. I woke up talking to Philip. I was telling him about some pastries I bought for some friends (Philip was a wonderful baker.) I remember as I woke up I said out loud, “Oh please don’t let this be a dream.” I looked at his empty side of the bed and I knew it was just a dream. It was a lovely conversation, and I knew he knew where I was…and that was reassuring.
My tears have long subsided and I know I am on the precipice of a new life and a new venture. I pray it’s full of joy and excitement. I know I have a lot to do with that. I am so eternally grateful for so many wonderful, loving friends.