Saturday, February 6, 2010

We're not in "Kansas" anymore

That's how I truly feel sometimes. This week has been a week like that. When I think of that famous line from "The Wizard of OZ", my thoughts go straight to a sense of normalcy. I definitely am not in a state of normalcy. Not even 7 months after Keith's death. Yes, tomorrow will be 7 months.

This week did present itself with some bits and pieces of what may be to come...eventually. This week was not a horrible, terrible week filled with such overwhelming grief and sadness. I actually had one really good day this week. That day my weary, grief-filled, broken heart felt at peace. The huge, painful cracks in my soul were not nearly as deep or as painful. My soul felt a sense of contentment. Contentment and peace. Two things I have not felt in a VERY LONG TIME.

I also went to choir practice for the first time since June. It was an abbreviated practice due to the choir director being out sick. That was a good thing for me. I didn't have to endure it too long that first time out. I don't know that I will be able to sing in the choir in the morning, but I have sat in the choir loft for the first time.

Wondering why that's hard for me? Well, up until one week before Keith died, he was the sound guy at church. I would sit in the choir loft and be able to look straight to the back of the sanctuary and see my husband sitting at the sound board either smiling at me or trying to make me laugh. Now, I have to be able to sit in the choir loft and know that my husband is not sitting back there trying to catch my eye. That is a hard piece of reality to come to terms with. I took the first step. I don't know if or when I'll be able to take the next step, but I am glad that I took this first step.

Another first for me this week was that I went back into a classroom as a substitute teacher for the first time since Keith's seizure last April. I only worked a half day. It was difficult for me to face. I had to figure out how I was going to write my name on the board. What's hard about that? I didn't know if I could still write Mrs. Baxley since I took off my wedding rings. I'm not ready to be a Ms. yet either. MLC and a very dear friend came through for me. They helped me to see that I am still Mrs. Baxley even if I don't wear my rings anymore, even if my husband has died, even if I don't feel married (but he still holds my heart). I also had to deal with another reality of my husband's death. I realized that I didn't have anyone to come home to at the end of my day to share the funny stories with. I didn't have someone to rub my feet if they hurt because I had been standing for hours. I didn't have anyone to vent to. I didn't have anyone at the end of the day. There was a huge amount of grief that surfaced with these realizations.

I did it though. I subbed. I was exhausted, even though it was only a half day. I had good time. I got my rhythm back very quickly. I am so glad that I did it. I am not ready to do a full day yet, but I will consider working a half day occasionally.

What else did I do? The kids and I rearranged the living room furniture. I also bought a slip cover for the sofa, a small area rug, and two throw pillows. I had to make some changes. I simply could not be in my living room. That is where Keith spent his final night. That is where Keith drew his last unassisted breath. That is where I watched my husband struggle with every ounce of strength in his body to try to draw in enough air to breathe. That is where I felt so completely helpless. Every piece of medical knowledge I have could not help him that night. I just wanted to be able to help him and I couldn't.

Ever so slowly I am coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed not in Kansas anymore. It's hard. It's the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. I miss Keith like crazy every single day. I know that I can not keep being passive with my life. I've never been a passive person. (No comment necessary for those that have known that about me.) I have to allow myself to heal. I can not allow the grief and the sadness to consume me indefinitely. Believe me when I say that it is tempting. It is tempting to let the grief and the sadness continually consume my emotions. It's comfortable. It's where my final moments with Keith are at. I don't want to let any piece of him go...not even the worst parts.

At the end of it all, God is working to heal my broken heart. There is pain in healing. Healing can't take place if I don't let it. I'm trying to let it.

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