Grace Under Pressure …
I took the Christmas tree down today.
Yes, I know it’s January 28 and it should have been out of the house by January 6, at least here in Ireland where these things are set in long-established ritual.
But it’s ok that the tree has been sitting in corner of the sitting room getting less and less green by the day. It’s ok because I promised I wouldn’t be hard myself, that I wouldn’t put myself under any more pressure than necessary, that I would allow myself to just do what was needed to get through each day.
That takes quite a bit of getting used to if you’re the type of person who constantly puts yourself under pressure.
But then widowhood takes a lot of getting used to as well. And it’s exhausting, hence the promise to ease up on all that pressure I tend to pile on myself. Because the main thing I need to do right now is to keep moving forward, to have the school uniforms washed and ironed on a Monday morning, to make sure we don’t run out of milk or bread or home heating oil, to buy lots of fruit and cook dinner from relatively fresh ingredients every day, or at least, most days (note to self: remember, you’re supposed to be easing up on the pressure!!!).
An advantage of living in a small community is that many of the people you meet as you go about your business know what is going on in your life. I found it suffocating as a teenager and couldn’t get away soon enough but now I know it’s value. People speak freely, openly. They don’t fear saying the wrong thing. We’re quite comfortable talking about death in rural Ireland so there is seldom any awkwardness or fumbled attempt to avoid the subject. Especially when it comes to cancer. So many people are all too familiar with the language of cancer.
I’m especially grateful to the people who say: “I was about your age when my husband died, and my kids were the same age as yours.”
I’m grateful because they don’t tell me it will get easier. Instead, they tell me I’ll get through it, and they unintentionally prove the point by standing before me as living proof that I will get through it, these strong women who raised their families in much more challenging times than those in which I live.
I also promised myself that I would stop focussing so much on all the things I needed to do, so today instead of berating myself for not having taken the Christmas tree out sooner, for not having a neater house, for not yet having written that novel, I took time to look at what I have achieved.
Since September when my husband suffered that horrific fate that smokers are warned about but are so good at ignoring (speaking as an ex-smoker myself!), I have kept going. My house, if seldom tidy, is relatively clean. I have painted the kitchen, bought new curtains and lampshades, and I love it. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t got round to painting the cupboards yet. That will come.
I have done a major clear-out of every room in the house, managed to keep working three days a week, and am on top of the important things.
One of my daughters is beginning cello lessons next week and she’s very excited about it, as am I – the cello, such a beautiful instrument. Another child has been selected to represent her school on a quiz team, my second oldest is planning a very belated birthday party and my eldest has begun a work placement as part of her degree.
After I took the Christmas tree out to the back garden I decided that today was the day I was going to get back into my blog. I wrote almost every day during Eamon’s illness and it helped a lot. But today I realised that I had moved on to a different place, that I was well on my way to making the mental adjustment from ‘partner/wife’ to ‘just me’ (the emotional adjustment is still at the early stages).
I felt that I should mark that realisation in some way and then I saw the daily prompt, ‘Just Another Day….’
Yep, just another day, but a day as precious and important as any other.
Actually, I when I saw the prompt I thought I would write a flash fiction but it seems I had a few things to get out of my system.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks for reading x