Moving forward. I Go On. Life after October 10.
I cook, I clean, I parent, I teach, I drive, I commute, I work, I manage, I lead, I negotiate, I counsel, I discipline, I feel, I love, I go on. Since Laura’s death, we’ve had the holidays, and birthdays, and Mother’s Day. All those firsts that we got through. Somehow. We remember, we miss, we grieve. We’ve traveled. We’ve raised a puppy. We’ve trained the dogs. We’ve tried things and stopped things. We tried a household helper, our own Mrs. Doubtfire. That didn’t work out. We have a new driver’s license, and we had a first accident. We’ve gone through almost the whole school year and the boys have studied and worked and focused. We’ve gone through a sports season with successes and wins. I’ve bought cars and sold cars. I’ve donated items and de-cluttered the house. There’s still more to do. I go on.
After Laura’s death, I took time off from work; about 3 months. The company was great in providing me the time I needed, and the people that I work with were, and still are, incredibly supportive. I went back to work after New Year’s and spent the first few days staring at and studying my inbox. Thousands of unread emails. I think ultimately I put any key emails from my boss into a folder and deleted about everything else (sorry if you’re still waiting for my reply).
One of the most important things I’ve learned in this past year is that I can’t control much of what happens in life. There are big picture things that are so much larger than us. I have always been a planner. I’ve set goals, I’ve worked hard and I’ve achieved them. I can do anything I set my sights on. One thing that comes to mind here is the sport of polo, and while I’ll never be a high goaler, I took up a very difficult, competitive sport, and I play with some degree of competence and skill. It’s a contact sport at 35 miles per hour with a thousand-pound animal I’m in control of. Frankly, it makes every other sport just a bit boring and slow. My riding and playing abilities are things that I can control. I can set goals and work towards those. I have and I continue to focus on improving those skills. That’s within my control. Similarly, a year ago, I had goals and plans for what the rest of my life with Laura and our family was going to look like. Where we’d be in five years when the boys finished high school, where we’d be in ten years, and on. Those all changed in an instant. All my plans were gone. I thought I knew how life would play out. Wow, was I wrong.
In the days following Laura’s death, I heard from hundreds of people. Calls, emails, texts. It was overwhelming. It moves me still. One of the most memorable texts was from a friend of mine, a professional polo player, and I played a lot of games with him last summer. We won every game we played together and dealt with all sorts of stuff on and off the field. Horse issues, people issues. One of our teammates who went on an addiction bender. One our horses that broke a leg in one of our last games of the season. We had to put her down. We dealt with weather, and truck problems, and trailer problems, and horses getting loose. We won tournaments together and stood on a couple of podiums spraying champagne. We got pissed and yelled at each other a couple of times about the way we were playing. And we had beers together after every match. Anyway, he wrote me a simple text a day after Laura’s death that made me laugh. He said, simply, “ Not sure even what to say. I’m crushed for you and the boys….it’s been a country song of a summer…let me know when you need someone to drink a couple beers with….” That text made me laugh. And I so needed that laugh at the time. So now our summer polo season is starting again, and it’s time to drink a couple of beers. I guess, you could say, that the country song continues.
I really don’t know what the next verse of my country song life will be. I don’t know if it’s about joy or love or grief. Or drinking a couple of beers. I don’t know what’s next, and I can’t control that. I can’t control how someone else feels about me or about anyone else.
My marriage lasted 21 years. We were together almost 23 years. I thought it would go another 40. Being a 49-year-old widower was never something that I thought I‘d be. Such is the country song, and so the story goes. And so, I go on. I move forward. I’ll never move on from Laura and our 23 years together, but I will move forward. Maybe one step forward at times and two back, but I will. I will go on.