That's what everyone keeps telling me. But it's not true, not remotely. I just have my meltdowns in private, when nobody's looking.
It doesn't take bravery to keep forging ahead, especially when you have no choice. Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the Future —whether we want to go there or not. There's no "reverse" switch; believe me, I've looked! There's no "pause" button. There's only Fast Forward.
One friend told me if she were in my place, she's stop washing her hair and stay in bed for a month. And my first thought was, Wait! That's an option? I never got the memo!
But I do have one secret weapon standing between me and complete emotional chaos — as tempting as it would be to give in to it.
My Art Boy was all about positive energy. He didn't do angst in his paintings, and he didn't do drama in real life. He was the problem-solver, and no problem was insurmountable. If his plans hit a roadblock, he'd study the situation and figure out a way around it. He could rise to any challenge, and he always did it with a smile on his face. (And usually, a flute of champagne in his hand!)
As James saw it, his mission was to keep things upbeat, laugh at everything, and keep spirits buoyed up so we could all get on with the business of life. And even though he may be gone, physically, I feel like now he's now become my Spirit Guide!
It's Art Boy's voice in my heart that reminds me when it's time to take my pills. He advises me in the kitchen when I'm trying to replicate our favorite dishes for one. ("Watch the pan, so the garlic doesn't burn!") He's the one suggesting I shut down for the evening, come downstairs, pour a glass of bubbly, and enjoy some quality time out on the deck with Bella the Cat. That's what he'd be doing!
It hurt so much at first to not have him actually there beside me. But gradually, even though I'm alone (with Bella purring happily in my lap — kitties love it when you visit their turf!), I find that as I'm sitting there, surrounded by all the things he loved — our blooming succulents and ripening figs; the industrious humming of bees in the pear tree, the soft, late-afternoon light — some of his exuberant attitude toward life begins to steal back into my heart.
This is exactly the same life he loved with such passion. He's just not here to enjoy it any more.
But I am.
So whenever I get too despondent, when that renegade thought surfaces that I just don't want to do this any more, the voice of my Spirit Guide reasons with me. This is our life, he reminds me, that we worked so hard to create. Don't give up on it yet!
And he's right, of course. James embraced this life with gusto, and now that he can't be part of it himself, it's up to me to do the same. For his sake, and my own.
I may be eating for one these days, but I'm living for two.
(Above: Navigating Life's Obstacles, by James Aschbacher, 2018)