What step am I on in this journey?

The thing about a journey is that once in awhile you have to stop and see where you are. It’s important to reflect on where you’ve been and to anticipate where you might be heading, but at times those considerations are not as important as where you are.

And I am on the cusp of big change. I can feel it. I’ve been in such a fog since my husband Jim died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, living my life in a superficial, robotic sort of way. My life had no heart for five years, and I had no desire to make it any different.

But something IS different. I suppose the change has been gradual, but my realization of its happening has been much more sudden.

I have found my gusto for life again. I feel a depth of involvement in my life that’s no longer just superficial human existence.

I spend a lot of time behind this wheel, but it finally feels like I'm getting somewhere. (Photo by Daryl Friedman)

I spend a lot of time behind this wheel, but it finally feels like I’m getting somewhere. (Photo by Daryl Friedman)

It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been dealing with the emotional issues dredged to the surface by grief. I am. It doesn’t mean I am not changed. I am. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t think about Jim and miss his presence every day of my life. I do.

But I’m seeing true worth in my own life again. I’m more engaged with family and friends. I feel happiness and contentment. I can see myself as an individual. I care that I am alive.

This new-found freedom of spirit has been hard-won. I still have issues with coming home to an empty house and eating alone. I know I am not whole anymore in the way I was when Jim was alive. I have been through all of the various emotions and experiences I have written about thus far in my blog, and I am changed.

Some people think such experiences might weaken a person’s resolve for living.

It has all made me stronger.

I have more confidence to handle life’s everyday inconveniences. I’m able to laugh at myself and what happens to me more readily, rather than let it throw me way off course. I’m better able to identify and be accepting of situations that are typical of the human condition and not see them all as specific to widowhood.

Although I’ll always be “different” because of my experiences, I feel more integrated into life’s mainstream again, rather than watching it flow by me without desire or ability to be part of it.

That doesn’t mean I won’t have bad spells, whether they are hours long, days long or more, but it does mean I have a firm frame for my new “normal” to come back to now. My vision of normal is much more solid, does not keep shifting shakily to and fro, and has become a new “safe” place for me.

Now that I know where I am, I will set my sights on the future, fully aware that I will not be able to keep myself from looking over my shoulder to touch base with my past, even as I move toward my Plan B unfolding before me.

However that happens, I feel sure I’ll be okay.

I hope you’ll continue to walk with me on my journey, as we never know what’s at the top of the next hill or around the next bend.

So many of you have reached out to share your own experiences and wisdoms, and concerns about my well-being, and each of you has gifted me with something special I carry with me. I thank you for that, and count you among the many blessings God has given me.

So, let’s see … what’s that in the road ahead?


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.