A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, October 14, 2020
I had a wonderful phone date with my friend, Lil, last night. It was amazing how similar our life paths turned out. She was my first childhood friend who lived down the street. I met her through my mother, who befriended Lil’s mother through their daily commute. Lil is four years older than me. Now, that doesn’t matter, but when we were kids, four years was a big deal. I idolized her. She was super friendly and didn’t mind hanging out or being nice to a kid. She grew up to become the most popular librarian in Vancouver. I love books and libraries, and growing up thinking she had my dream job. I moved away when I was nine, but we remained friends via letters. As of last night, our relationship graduated to phone calls.
Since Shelter in Place, I’ve been having more phone dates than ever before, but it wasn’t until last night that I appreciated the value of a phone call. It was marvelous talking with Lil and getting an instantaneous response from her compared to waiting for her letters. That’s what locked it down for me. I don’t think I want to go back to letters with her. We covered so much ground in the 2.5-hour phone call that we could in half a year of letters.
We compared notes on our initial loss experiences, which led me to remember how my life changed in a flash. I felt like a superhero who suddenly lost her superpowers forcing her to live her life as a mere human. Not that I was a superhero but rather the extreme transformation part of it that I compared.
Years ago, as my family headed to the front door after visiting with me, my older sister said, “Your blinds are still open.” I shrug my shoulders, not understanding what the big deal was. “It’s dark out,” she added. I told her that I usually close them when I went to bed. She lectured me on the spot as big sisters do. I continued to do my thing, though. However, all that changed. After Mark passed, I felt the vulnerability of my sister’s warnings. Since then, my blinds might be closed before daylight vanished.
Once upon a time, I went out walking on the trails nearby—alone, fearless, invincible—against friends’ cautioning me not to walk the trails alone. Then, one day, in my new status quo, I couldn’t get myself off my front porch to hit the walking path. My feet cemented into the ground beneath me. Every single nanite raced through the corridors bumping against each other and the walls within me in panic like they were trying to escape a fire. None of them wanted to hit that trail with me. I relented and went back inside.
Yesterday, there was a long line heading into Trader Joe’s. The guy ahead of me struck a conversation. Nice guy. That reminded me of when I used to hand out my personal business card with all my contact info. Again, fearless against friends and family, cautioning that I shouldn’t give out all my info to strangers. I have often done that, and it was always fine. Yesterday, as decent and friendly as he was, I questioned giving out my contact info.
What changed? I am still who I am. Live where I live. Everything around me the same as it always was. What changed? When I shared all this with Lil, the answer came to me—Mark. When he was here, he was my strength, my courage, my comfort, and my buffer. Giving my contact info out was harmless because I was married. There was no question there.
Not that anybody would know anything from whether my blinds were opened or closed, but I did. I know that I’m alone, and that adds insecurity to the equation. Just like going out on the walking trail alone. What changed there? I used to go walking alone when Mark was at work, so all things were equal for what it was worth, but the difference now was that I’m alone—for real. In the past, if I ran into trouble, I could call him. Now, if I ran into trouble, he’s not anywhere to help. That’s the difference.
I warned Lil to keep her cell with her when she does things around the house because she is all alone now. I hate living paranoid, but this is being realistic. I realized this when I changed the smoke detector’s batteries. Of course, after Mark passed, that’s when everything needed replacing. I lugged the 10-foot ladder to the master bedroom and got up onto the second step from the top to just reaching the smoke detector. That moment taught me I needed to make sure my cell was with me at all times in case I fell or got hurt. You never think about things like this until you are all alone.
Some things family and friends taught me. Others I learned from trial and error. All converting me from the superhero I was to the meek human that I am. I don’t like being this new me, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m no superhero. I’m not that brave, but I miss the old me. I miss being fearless.