A Holding Pattern
July 4, 2015 | My Jottings
I read that when a plane is being flown in a holding pattern, it’s not making any further progress in miles, but is flying around in a relatively small area of airspace, waiting until it has permission to land.
I feel like I’m in the holding pattern of widowhood, wondering what comes next. Except I realize that what is going on in my life right now (which I’ve always regarded as lavish beyond belief) might just be what will be going on in my life until my days on earth are over. And that would be so fine! But I still have this limbo-like feeling. I guess it’s normal.
I wish I had other older widows to talk to. I have four very close friends who’ve all been widows, but each was young when her husband died, and they’ve all remarried. And indeed they’ve each been wonderful comforts to me.
I wonder about seemingly silly things like, “What shall I do with my time now?” I have daughters and grandchildren and a foster care business, so it’s not like I’m bored. It’s not that. In fact, I can’t ever remember a time in 57 years when I’ve been bored. Being a reader has ensured a boredom-free life for me.
I have a picture in my mind about what a healed widow might do with her time. She gardens, knits, takes painting or sculpting classes, maybe even some college courses. She travels occasionally with friends, does senior yoga to stay limber, volunteers once a week at a place which benefits from her wisdom and compassion. She also loves to walk and bicycle, and only increases in strength and dignity the older she gets.
Well. I love the order and color of a beautiful flower garden, the organic freshness of home grown vegetables. But I’m not even an iota interested in doing it myself. I drove up to the cemetery today and pulled a handful of weeds away from Michael’s grave, and on the way home I noted the dirt under my fingernails with a titch of anxiety, which made me want to scrub them when I got home.
I love the idea of painting and creating and feeding my melancholic soul that way, but for some strange reason I don’t want to pursue that right now. I have scrapbooks I need to finish first.
Yoga would be nice if I could bend my right knee and attend an intensely remedial class for women who’re mostly blind and don’t want to do downward facing dog.
I would love to take a couple of online college courses, but to what end? To get a degree I probably wouldn’t use? Or just for the joy of learning and achievement? The latter sounds like it might be possible.
Travel is the one thing my imaginary quintessential widow-woman does that I would like to do, but I realize I have almost as much agoraphobia as I do wanderlust. I want to go to Scotland tomorrow. But I don’t want to leave my house. This could present a problem.
I can picture myself volunteering someday, but only when I’m not so needy myself. I don’t feel like I have much wisdom and compassion to offer to anyone these days. Rather, I feel vulnerable, drained and sponge-like.
It would seem like I’m in some kind of holding pattern. Like I’m waiting for the next thing, but I have no idea what the next thing could be. Because except for the constant, hollow longing for my Michael (which is huge enough), I have been blessed with a life that keeps me thanking and praising God many times a day, with a full heart.
Can a full heart also feel tentative, sore and unsure? I hope so.
Perhaps a widow who has remained unmarried and is a few years further down the road on this grief journey could tell me that this holding pattern sensation will pass. Or maybe she would tell me it never really goes away, but that it becomes bearable with Jesus.
It’s perplexing but not terrible, and like everything else, I’m entrusting it to Him.