By Mark Ogden
I often get thoughts pop into my head about wife. It’s almost as if she were here saying “remember when ...”. This used to throw me into such a place of despair and depression, but now it automatically brings a small smile to the corner of my lips and then a twinge of sadness but the smile will remain. I’m not saying I force this smile upon myself, it happens naturally now. Of course I still cry and even break down and crash sometimes, but now a smile is the first thing that appears.
This entire time of becoming and then walking as a widower is a time of self-awareness. Learning who I am in so many ways. Learning my strengths and my weaknesses. But it’s also a time of learning how to cope and even how to survive. This isn’t something that can be actively accomplished, a person can’t make this happen. But, I think it does take an action to cause it to grow. I’ve needed to be alert to what was happening to me. I’ve always tried to process my feelings and understand them, and I believe that has been a help to me here.
I guess, it’s like life in general. You have some control of your life, but at the same time there is so much where we have no control. Like canoeing down an unknown river. There are places of calm where we can maneuver around, explore and spend some time enjoying and even resting. But there are other places where the shore disappears and the walls of canyons loom over us and begin to come closer together. The water moves faster and we are not able to control our own movements any longer. Being out of control is a scary place to be. Being afraid of what’s around the corner, not knowing what will happen to us when we broach that corner. And will we survive whatever is around that corner. You know that no one survives the river forever. And those of us who have been widowed have seen those who chose to travel this river together with us succumb to the waters and disappear. Some day, we know we will also.
At times I have fought this river, afraid of going further. Though I am able to fight the current enough to not go forward I have rarely had the strength to go back up the river to the places I have been at before. It takes so much strength to do so. But with anguish and fear, self-determination and will I can keep from going forward and having to deal with what happens to be ahead for me.
At other times, I have given myself over to the river, feeling no more strength to hold myself from the unknown or perceived scariness of what is ahead. At these times I have felt so overwhelmed and burdened that I was not even able to lift my head to see my surroundings. To notice the awesome power of the river or the contrasting beauty of the water and land. Many times losing track of those others that were with me in this journey. Maybe I would be aware of them calling to me, but even the strength to respond was not there.
But, even so, the water would keep moving me forward.
I have tried to keep my head up no matter where I have been on this river. As I said before I have always tried to process my feelings and understand them. I like pictures of nature and scenery, and what I have noticed about pictures of a river is the beauty of it in all its shapes and places. Whether it’s a calm, wide river or a narrow craggy canyon or even a waterfall. The beauty can always make me stop and marvel. This river is not a place to enjoy, though at times it can be enjoyable. It’s also not healthy to be afraid of this river, though it does often produce fear. There is no sense in getting angry at the river. The river just simply is a river. It doesn’t conspire against us. There is no reasoning with it or trying to make it change it’s mind. It can only do what rivers do. That is to flow.
May we all find peace to perceive and marvel at the power and beauty of our surroundings, but if at the moment you are unable, then remember the river will carry you forward anyhow.