I still sometimes feel like my world is “out of sorts”. I think that sometimes I still have moments of adjusting to my “new normal” I will say this, I am not “flashlight walking” anymore. For the longest time after losing Donnie, I was flashlight walking.
It was like when we would go to the beach with my Mom to search for sharks teeth. We would get there before sun up and walk with our flashlights along the beach. You couldn’t see any further than where the flashlight shone at your feet.
As we searched for sharks teeth on the beach, we were focused on only the spot in front of us that we could see. But as time passed, the sun started to appear on the horizon and you could see just a little more. Gradually the sun rose into the sky, shining a little bit of light at a time until it was high in the sky. And at some point during your walking, you almost didn’t realize how much the sun had started to illuminate your surroundings. You had been so focused on just your feet and the next step that you didn’t see the light of the sun rising around you. It was slow and gradual and when you finally looked up, you realized that you could see up ahead again and it was almost surprising how far you could see. Even though you “knew” the sun would come up, you didn’t quite expect it.
That is what the last 20 months of my life have been. After losing Donnie, I couldn’t see or fathom my future. I could only see where I was standing, because my path and my future which was a lighted path before, had now become dark. I couldn’t see up ahead anymore. The lights had been turned off and I was alone and afraid. I could only focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Only where I could see with my “flashlight” And I focused on just that. Sometimes I couldn’t move. I stood still, searching for the courage to take another step. I was scared to move forward. Donnie was behind me and each step I took felt like it was taking me further away from him. So when I felt like that, I would turn and run back to my grief. There were times I tried to rush ahead, hoping to see. But I was just left alone and lost in the dark. So back to the flashlight I went. I found out there was no rushing thru the grief. I had to go thru it. I have walked that path with that flashlight. I took one step at a time. And over time, just like the sun rising up, I started to be able to see just a little bit more. A little further ahead. Head down, I trudged forward. It hasn’t been easy, but I have kept going. And as the sun rose around me, I could see a little further ahead just a little bit at a time. It has been slow and gradual, just like the sunrise. And now, as I stop to look around, my path is bright again. As I look ahead, I can see my future again. I see my future again (for the most part) atleast I know which way I am heading .
It is bittersweet. As I look forward to my future, I smile. I am optimistic about the path before me and I am happy. But at the same time, it makes me sad too. I can see my future and Donnie isn’t in it. And for many years, he was. It doesn’t mean that I am not happy with my choices. I am very happy with where I am in my life and where I am going. It just means that I miss him. I can’t see the future I had planned before Donnie got sick anymore. I can, but it is only a memory of where I thought we would be now. It has been a long journey to get to this point. At times I don’t realize how far I have come. Until I turn around and look behind me.
And as I turn around and look behind me, I see the broken path that I have travelled to get to where I am at now. I know that Donnie was there and how far he travelled with me, even when I felt alone. I remember the conversation we had about him wanting me to continue to live my life and move on. I feel him there urging me to go ahead. Pushing me to continue going forward without him. I know that he is there smiling and telling me it is ok. It’s ok to let go, it doesn’t mean I am forgetting. It just means I am accepting my life and continuing on.