We have a new washer & dryer. The old dryer had the lint filter at the bottom behind the door, but the new dryer has the lint filter at the top under the controls. We have had the new dryer for more than a month, and I still find myself, after every single load, reaching into the bottom of the dryer to remove the lint.
My husband, for whatever reason (at 3:00 a.m.), decided to move the refrigerator from one end of the kitchen to the other. It’s a small kitchen so distance is not a problem. However, I used to be able to stand at the stove, simply turn halfway around, and then reach into the fridge. I could continue stirring whatever I was cooking on the stove during the entire process. Now, of course, there’s nothing across from the stove but bare wall, and I’m still always slightly surprised to find that whatever item I need for cooking is not immediately accessible by a simple half-turn.
I take the same route to and from work almost every single day, unless there’s an accident or construction. Sometimes on the way home from work, I plan to stop off at a store for groceries or household supplies. I can’t tell you how often I’ve forgotten to make the turn onto the street where the store is located because I’m so used to going straight like I do every other night.
My three daughters are all grown and living on their own, but whenever I know they have gone out for the evening or traveled out of town, I find myself listening for that emergency phone call. Heaven forbid my mother-in-law or someone has the misfortune to call on those occasions!
Our huge, cuddly black German Shepherd dog died nearly a year ago, and I still expect to find him waiting at the door when I arrive home.
And in a similar vein, every time I have either very exciting or very bad news, I find myself reaching for the phone to tell my mother, who died earlier this year. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.
I’m sure you thought at the beginning that this would be one of those upbeat how-to-kick-the-habit-and-get-on-with-your-life posts. As a matter of fact, I started off with exactly that intention.
But as so often happens, the words I wanted to write became words that wrote themselves.
And I realized how many serious life changes and losses my family and I have experienced over the years, and how hard it has been to adjust to each one.
I used to be one of those just-suck-it-up-and-be-a-man proponents, but now I’m not so sure it’s all that easy. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to adjust to a negative life change, and I’m not saying that a person should wallow in that negativity forever, and I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are simply unwilling or unable to adjust. I’m just saying that now I have a little more patience for people who are going through some form of hardship.
When I was 26 years old, single and childless, I worked at a business where the other employees, both male and female, were all different ages, some older, some younger. I recall a day when an older woman was seen crying in her cubicle, and when asked why she was so upset, she indicated that it was the anniversary of the day her son had been killed in a car accident.
Another employee, who was the same age as me and also single and childless, made the comment:
“Get over it already – it’s been years!”
That older woman was an excellent worker who showed up every day, did her job without complaint, and chatted sociably with everyone else in the office. Until that day, I never even knew she had lost a child.
How could anyone NOT think of a lost son on the anniversary of his death? And how could any mother not cry at that moment?
And how can anyone be so cruel as to tell a grieving person to “just get over it already”?
I have lost a number of people who were close to me, and I think of every single one of them on holidays and on their birth dates, if not more often. That doesn’t mean I have stopped my life to grieve 24/7, but certainly I am entitled to pause for a moment in silent memory of those loved ones. And if a tear or two should slide down my cheek during that moment, I think I’m entitled to that, too.
How can I not extend that understanding to others who are grieving?
Perhaps my need to write this today arose because summer has given way to fall, which will soon turn to winter. Perhaps it’s because I’m fast nearing the average life expectancy for women in this country. Or perhaps it’s simply because writing about deceased loved ones makes them feel so much closer.
From today forward, each new post will be dedicated to those loved ones – albeit silently.
So, here’s to you, Mom, Dad, Aunt and Uncle, and all my lost friends. May you follow my posts wherever you are …
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