Sunday, March 21, 2021

I keep moving and doing

I have something I routinely do, and maybe it’s unusual, or maybe it’s common, but I try to keep moving and doing. This helps me in my grief journey not by helping ease the grief, but because it’s a way to keep focused on what is, not what was. And, it works for me.

The first thing I do is that I always accept invitations (like for dinner or lunch) unless I have a good reason not to (like an appointment at the same time). I’ve read that sometimes if people keep refusing invitations, sooner or later people stop asking. I never had to find out whether that’s true or not. At the very least, it gives me something to do outside the house.

Another thing I do is take on projects, big and small, and that includes cooking experimentation. I’ve blogged about some of my kitchen adventures before, and will again, but this past week I went a bit farther.

On Friday night, some of the family came to my place for dinner, and I decided to do something completely different (for me) and make nothing but Thai dishes. I made Pad Thai again, and it was better than the first time, earlier this month. I also made Larb Gai (a kind of lettuce wrap, though I skipped the lettuce) with pork, and it was nicer than I thought it’d be. Finally, I made Massaman Curry, which I thought was really good.

I was happy with the results, but I also had some thoughts about it. First, Nigel would be happy I made all that (and he’d have liked it), and he’d also probably have been surprised that I succeeded. It’s an indication of how far I’ve come in cooking and also experimentation. Fortunately, the family seemed to enjoy it, too.

This is part of my new reality: Doing stuff Nigel would’ve enjoyed doing with family, which was his special joy, and yet, I’m all on my own. I’m so lucky to have married into such an awesome family, who can both miss Nigel nearly as much as I do, and also enjoy the stuff he and I would. It’s a good fit—even with Nigel missing.

Then today, a sort of project: Emptying out my storage unit in Auckland.

My brother-in-law picked me up this morning because his car is bigger than mine, and some of the stuff was too heavy for me to lift alone. We went directly to the storage unit. I’ll be honest: When we started loading the car, I didn’t think it would all fit, and I was fine with that, but, well, my brother-in-law was persistent, and got it all in. I even used a piece of cardboard to “sweep” the dirt from the floor, so it’s all nice and tidy—and empty!

We got back to my house and unloaded the stuff into my garage, and it was all done before 12:30.

This mini-project was important for two reasons. First, that storage unit is now empty, so I can give it up, and that means that the last remaining thing tying me to the last place Nigel and I lived is gone. My garage is now practically overflowing, but what matters is that it’s all here now, and I can deal with it.

The other reason it’s important is that I actually asked for help, something Nigel made me promise to do, a promise that I find incredibly difficult to keep at any time, but especially when it involves heavy lifting and an hour drive each way. But, then, I knew, as I learned 25 years ago, folks in this family are always ready to help. That made the asking part a little bit easier for me, but only just.

I have my upcoming week all planned out with a new project: I’ll be working in the garage to try and bring some order to it, in preparation for something I’m having done to the house the week after that (more about that later). Now that I have one less distraction, one less thing keeping my attention divided, I can focus all my energies on this house. That’s liberating—downright magical, really.

What all of this has in common is that they have tinges of the past, present, and my possible future all mooshed together, and it’s how I try to keep moving and doing. This method wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me, and right now that’s what matters.

I do wish I'd taken some photos of my Thai dinner last Friday, though. I was pretty great.

This blog post is based on two posts I made on my personal Facebook, but expanded and reorganised.


Roger Owen Green said...

you are wonderfully well-adjusted!
And I'm not sure it'd work for everyone, but I'm glad it works for you.

Arthur Schenck said...

It wouldn't be terribly useful for a lot of people, I bet. One of the reasons it has worked for me is that I'm not ordinarily this active. I think that doing stuff is helping me to avoid becoming too absorbed by my loss. While it doesn't do anything about the pain itself, as I said in this post, it does give me a way to step aside from it, even if only temporarily, and every little respite helps. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment which, in turn, gives me more confidence to move forward.

To be clear, I still get completely overwhelmed by grief sometimes (last week was especially bad as I mentioned on Friday), but at least I found a way to help keep my grief in balance most of the time, and it helps me move forward. Anyway, it does work for me, and that's obviously the important thing for me right now.