Have you ever taken a birds-eye view of your entire life?
Imagine yourself floating above the earth high enough to view a a timeline of your life.You would be able to glimpse the first moment that you began to wonder about this thing called “life”.You would see the moment that you began to think about what you would like to be when you grew up.You would view all the events in between that have led you to the moment you’re in now. You would be able to view the great and not so great, the small and not so small, the happy and the sad experiences that have led you to this place.
I have tried this exercise many times since my husband passed away. For me it’s been a part of my “sorting out”, a process by which I’ve tried to figure out how I ended up in this place, being a widow. This actuivity has also helped me to begin to figure out why I am here.
Some say when we die we will have a life review. Of course there is no substantial evidence that this will actually happen, as no one has come back to verify this notion. But this self-exploratory exercise is something that we can play around with and see if it helps us to answer questions we have about our purpose and the reason that we were born.It’s a self assessment of sorts that helps us to understand where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re heading. We can also look at the events in our lives and see how they have helped to shape us and support us as we continue to create our path on the go.
When you lose someone close, up close and personal,like I have, your perspective on life changes. Life begins to matter in a whole new way and you begin to see all people, places, habits, and things through a different and often clearer lens.As a child I would wonder why people were mean to each other. I would think about how easy it would be if people were just more understanding, kind, patient and considerate as well as accepting of each other. I didn’t really understand that each individual is different, possesses different skills, talents, intellectual capabilities and personalities and that there we’re also influenced by our environment, our upbringing, and the events and experiences that impact our lives,along the way to adulthood.
As I’ve examined the breadth of my life, I can see myself a little girl who loved to play and sing and whose favorite popsicle flavor was cherry. I see myself as the little girl who loved to ride her bike, pick flowers, and go sledding, and ice-skating.I see myself as a little girl who loved to read anything she could get her hands on. I was the girl who loved mysteries, books about other girls,fairytales and books about people who led interesting lives.I loved reading the wedding announcements in the Sunday NY Times and imagined myself a Times bride.There were never any people of color,and the few who were included were so fair you didn’t know they were black,unless ,of course you were familiar with the name.My parents always knew about the names. I remember the days when I would savor the aroma and taste of a good,hot cocoa. I also remember steeping hot bowls of tomato soup,a little milk poured in to cool it off when it was too hot. It was during those early years that I would wonder, as most children wonder,what my life might be like. I even had dreams of my future that were filled with great expectations.
Soon I began to realize that I was creating a plan for my life, as I thought about what I wanted to do, which changed every now and then.I sometimes imagined myself married and a mother,or working in Manhattan at some exciting job.Maybe I would be an artist….maybe I would teach art.Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was actually laying the groundwork and creating a blueprint that would carry me forward as I created my life’s course. Of course my parents steered me in the direction they thought that I should go, and with their wise teachings and constant goal setting, I was able to finish school, go to university, attend graduate school and pursue professional goals that would lead me in the direction of my chosen career, which was education. My personal life was also fulfilled as I met and married the man of my dreams. Going from point A to point B may have seemed like sheer luck, but in actuality my subconscious and spirit were always leading me where I needed to go.
After my husband’s tragic illness and subsequent death,I began re-examine my whole life. Not right away, but after some months when I was able,I began to wonder how I ended up in this place as a widow.I knew that although I have often labeled my husband’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer as a random “act of violence”, I actually felt that there was a deeper meaning attached to that illness and the whole experience he and I shared.
I believe that many people experience unforeseen events throughout our lives,and they are always life-changing. So my situation is not so unique, but still carries the same devastation that comes with tragic circumstances. It is at these times when our feet are being put to the fire that we can decide to get burned or walk through the flames. These events are actually pivotal moments in our lives.When we’ve had some time to be able to digest everything and look back on the loss of a husband, wife, or loved ones for example, we can begin to understand that these are the moments that re-define our lives.
In my own life as I slowed down a bit, and the veil of grief slowly began to disappear, I was able to see that the circumstances of my entre life were not just random, but all that I’d experienced and been through throughout my lifetime had led me to my present situation. Even as I had veered off course, I still ended up here: a widow.I laid the foundation for my life by my early thoughts and actions.Now,it is in this place,at this present time that I have found a life full of grace, hope, and love. Writing and assisting others who have gone through what I have gone through is not what I would’ve imagined for myself doing when I was young and struggling with ideas of who I wanted to become. It’s like being Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,as clicking those ruby red slippers sent Dorothy back home,after having experienced many triumphs and challenges she discovered she’d always had the power and support and the wherewithal to get there.
Home is where we come from,and it is always where we’re heading. We are on our own path,creating it as we go. The losses in my life revised my earnest plans and lead me on a road to opening my heart to those who suffer and hold onto pain. I’m serving others in a way that has allowed me to find myself and find my way home.
Whatever I thought my life would be like it actually has ended up exactly as I imagined, except for life’s trevails along the way. But I now know that even the unexpected were the moments where my life was about to take a turn and lead me toward my destiny. So it is here where I’ve always wanted to be and it is here where I will remain as I continue to follow my path on the road leading me back to home.