Jul 31, 2009

What to do next?

I have read and participated somewhat in a widow/er group in Facebook. One of the topics I was interested in was concerning how long people find it appropriate to continue wearing their wedding rings.  I know how many have done so, such as Matt and 3SF, from their blogs and it helped give me a little perspective but it hasn’t really helped me make up my mind. 3SF said his promotion from his left to right hand was more or less planned, and until I read his account just the other night I too had a plan of sorts. But the more I ponder how long is long enough…how long is too long…the less I feel I’m ready.

The issue for me is that on most days I feel like a single father of three, first and foremost. There are a few days, randomly selected by this brooding monster of grief, that I feel primarily the widower of my beautiful late wife. On the more frequent days, when life is a normal as we can now expect it to be, I could handle removing the ring or moving it from my left to right hand. Even though those more normal days are the more frequent days, they lesser and more selective grieving days are still more powerful. I still feel an enormous amount of guilt that for all accounts I can’t explain  can’t understand can’t get passed. I don’t carry a burden of guilt because she is dead, but because I could’ve been a better partner when she was sharing her life with me. This guilt seems ridiculous to carry around on most days; it’s the fewer, more potent, days that really make the difference.

On those days the past is more important to me; not dwelling in it as if I could change something. More a remembrance of it to relive the details for my children. On those fewer days I couldn’t imagine taking this ring off my left hand for any amount of time. I feel there’s some mosaic shade of hypocrisy in that I berate the State agents for not acknowledging that I’m no longer married and yet I can’t remove this ring because I still feel, at times, very much married.

Now, as I write this, I’ve become aware that in the past week or so those fewer days have been not so few. The guilt a little heavier of a burden with which I wish I could part ways. I think of my children and wonder if they even care that I wear this ring. Not that I wear it for them, but that I’m consumed with how they will react with every little decision I make. Do they understand what the ring represents? When my parents were divorced I kept my father’s wedding ring for a very long time (I haven’t a clue where it is today) because I understood what it represented and, as most children of divorce do, I held out hope that he would need the ring again one day if they decided to reconcile. That day did not and will not come, but I understood then what the ring symbolized. Now as a widower the symbolism is more than ‘till death do us part’. Now the ring means “I remember our life together”, it means “I still love you”, and it means “You are always apart of me”.

As I approach the first anniversary of Mindy’s death…the first anniversary of the end of our ‘life of before’, which was the date I thought I could remove the ring, I find that I am undoubtedly not ready to relieve myself of this reminder. I still need to feel it around my finger; to be able to twist it around and around while remembering how blessed I was for those 10+ years. I still need to allow myself to feel married on those fewer days, regardless of how frequent they become. So as it does so many times, writing this entry has helped me make up my mind…I’m not ready to part with the ring just yet. I think I’ll let spontaneity determine the right time and place for that as my plans seem a bit premature.

The next week will hold what I hope to be, but realistically know won’t be, the last “first”. For this next week, as I have no idea what to expect of myself, I reserve the right to completely collapse. The children will be distracted by a short trip to visit cousins and I have filled my calendar so I won’t have much time to “think”. But with each day I inch closer and I just want to clear the calendar and crawl in bed. If I could sleep through the entire month I would. Given the chance I would pass over the death anniversary, my Father’s birthday (her funeral was on his birthday), Mindy’s birthday, and my birthday. All this occurred in August; all were tough days last year with little expectation of any difference this year.

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