Saturday, June 9, 2012

Back in the Bubble

From the things I've said about my late husband Tom, those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may think that I view his memory through rose-colored glasses.  That's not the case; I'm well aware of his flaws.  Remind me some time to tell you about the unholy tax mess he left behind when he died.  However, in one way he was the ideal partner for me. 

Looking back, I can see that my life before I met him was extremely goal- and future-oriented.  Some of my earliest memories are of my parents (particularly my mother) explaining that my sister and I had to go to college when we grew up and learn to support ourselves.  Our family did not nurture "princess waiting to be rescued" fantasies; in fact, I do not remember either parent ever suggesting that some day Sue or I would marry and have children, or even want to.  Over the years I've wondered a lot about that.  Cinderella isn't a particularly good role model, but surely my parents went a little overboard in the opposite direction.  At any rate, the brainwashing worked; my sister earned a full-ride college scholarship and became a respected electrical engineer, and at the height of my career I was the chief underwriting officer of a New York City insurance company.  However, my parents have no biological grandchildren to brighten their declining years, just two single daughters with control issues.  Ants R Us.

Tom, on the other hand, was one of life's grasshoppers.  He was better than anyone I've ever met at enjoying the present moment without worrying about the future or dwelling on issues from the past.  He was also the only person ever in my life who loved me without wanting to change me.  He didn't always approve of my choices but he supported them anyway.  The years with him inevitably had their stresses, frequently work-related, but they also contained little bubbles of pure happiness.  Yes, he spent money too recklessly, but if we'd been more saving we wouldn't have had all those magical vacations and he would still be dead.  This way we'll always have Paris - and Aruba, and Napa Valley, and many other special times and places.

I'm bringing this up because this week, for the first time in the eight years since he died, I've been having unexpected jolts of the same peaceful, grounded joy that I felt with him.  I'm not really sure why, and frankly I'm a little afraid to examine the phenomenon too closely for fear it will pop like a balloon under pressure.  I only know that whatever the cause, I wouldn't be feeling it now had I not learned from Tom how to relax into the moment and cherish the present.

"Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough."  ~Emily Dickenson

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