Several years ago Marty, the kids and I went to tour Washington D.C. with her parents. It is a really awe inspiring, historical place. The monuments are amazing, the museums are incredible and the feeling of our unique American history is pervasive.
One afternoon Marty and I snuck off alone to the National Cathedral, which is little off the main paths of D.C.. We took a cab and walked through this enormous sanctuary.
Marty, as she was prone to do, was completely captured by the structure, by the architecture, by the sense of history and enormity of the church. I, on the other hand, was focused on what was next. How would we get back to the hotel, there were no cabs, when would we go to make it back in time for dinner, how would we get everyone to dinner, all of the logistical issues that become an obsession for some of us anxious travelers.
Marty very quickly tuned in to my anxiety and my lack of attention to the beauty surrounding us. She got mad and launched into her "live in the moment speech", and how can you ignore the magnificence around us and not "be here, right now". It was something of a seminal moment for me as I realized how often I was too busy looking down the road for the next turn instead of seeing what was right in front of me. When you focus too far ahead you not only miss the curves right in front of you (this is bad for your car insurance) or you miss the thrill of driving the curves.
This whole Jerry Jeff Walker, "livin' life day-to-day" thing has never really been me. While not a detailed planner, I have always liked to know what was coming and wanted to be prepared for almost any contingency. In another life I think I could have been a survivalist, you know, stock up on tuna, water and toilet paper. My kids already think I do this.
I ramble on with this history to make a couple of points, that really, I really will get to in the next few sentences. Hang in there.
When Marty and I first came home after the second stroke I was still very much in the "what is going to happen next" mentality and I was constantly trying to prepare for it. I was looking for her to get sick, I was waiting for the end, I was almost wanting it to end. I kept thinking of the worst situations and looking for the worst situations, consequently that's where I lived, in the worst situations. Because I focused on the future and what might be I was constantly living Marty's death and it was awful.
Somewhere along the way I began to hear Marty's voice, "live in the moment". I don't know that it was a conscience decision or an evolution of thought, and I certainly don't stay "in the moment" very well, but I have gotten better at it. I began to really rejoice in the moments of peace with Marty. When we are sitting on the patio and hear the wind chimes I really listen. Marty says she hears her Dad talking to her in the wind chimes, I listen for that too. I wallow in the small bursts of conversation Marty and I have and I look for ways to enjoy my time with her.
I really try not to focus on the end game anymore. I don't know how, when or even if I will ever see that anymore. I have really tried to quit living Marty's death; instead, I try to enjoy our life in the new normal we have. It all sounds really sweet, it's all very hard for me to do, because I'm not really built that way, but when I do, when I am able to "live in the moment" and not live what may or may not come in the future..... this is not just a tolerable life, but a rich one.