For the better part of the last ten months, I have been a man in mourning. Not a place that I pictured myself 20 years ago when I was a college student and you are making plans to fulfill your hopes and dreams. For four and a half years, I was my wife’s primary caregiver, the hardest and most humbling job I’ve ever had. It can be overwhelming having someone depend on you for every need. You learn to sleep with one eye open. The last year was the hardest. Lori was never the same after her medical episode in June of 2012. She was weaker, she was more dependent.
I have lost myself these past five years. My hopes, my dreams were all put on hold. I was okay with that. Many people would people in my position would have walked away, many men (and women) have walked away from the scenario I lived.
It may be strange to some, but I began thinking about my future early on. Maybe it was because I had to do something as I had been running non-stop by four and a half years. My brother Clark, tells the story of us talking about the future much better than I can during those early moments after Lori’s passing. He talks about it in his blog and you can read about it here. http://www.familytrek.org/when-death-brings-you-home
I’m going to move.
Not next week, not next month, not even this year. I’m setting up an 18 month plan to enable myself to live the life that I want to be able to live, without regrets.
I have wanted to move to the San Diego area since last summer. I’m constantly looking at real estate and rental listings for places like Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and when I’m really dreaming, La Jolla.
As I make plans to make this life change, I also have to consider what I am leaving behind. I live in the same town that I have lived in since I was five years old. Some of these people I have known since I was in kindergarten. I treasure those friendships. There is something comfortable about their being people in your life who have known you practically forever.
Most of my family lives in Indiana. My parents are here and two of my brothers and their families are here.
I’ve also thought about the fact that my parents are getting older. They are in reasonably good health. I’m sure they won’t be thrilled about my plans, but one thing that I can say about my parents is that they have never discouraged us from following our dreams. They may offer their advice, but they don’t try to dictate. As I think about it, I really do not see them often anyway. Part of my 18 month plan is ensuring that I block time out for travel to Indiana annually.
Since Lori passed away, I have been closer to all my brothers and their families than when she was alive. I have spent more time with them in the last ten months than I have in the last ten years. While I have enjoyed that time, I cannot live vicariously through them. It is not fair to them and is certainly not fair to me.
I’ve gotten lots of good advice over the last several months. A good friend told me that if I was going to move away, he’d miss me, but to make sure that I was running to something and not away from something. I am chasing my dream.
My therapist has taught me it’s okay to not apologize for feeling a certain way and to not apologize for having dreams.
And support is coming from unexpected places. I’m hearing from complete strangers who now follow this blog and give encouragement. Lori’s sister has told me that Lori would want me to do this. Friends of my generation who have lost spouses have encouraged me. Even a cousin that I had not spoken to in 25 years has become a big support. I reached out to her after she lost her husband to offer my support, but in many ways, she has probably helped me more than I’ve helped her.
This transition is a little scarier, I knew the Lori was going to pass, I just did not know when.
I control the timetable on this transition.
I am chasing a dream.
I am living life on my terms.
Lori would be my biggest cheerleader.