I currently reside in NJ and think of it as my home, but whenever I head back to my home state of Connecticut, I’m always over the moon about returning home. After George passed away, my parents scooped me up from my Jersey City apartment and brought me back to Connecticut where I stayed through Thanksgiving break before returning to work a week later. When I remember those days immediately afterwards I’m still befuddled on how I got back to work so quickly. But I remember sitting in my office crying while balancing my team’s budget and organizing our away trips. Occasionally I’d stare at old pictures of George. I still do that from time to time, but I don’t recognize myself in the pictures. It’s troubling to see someone who is basically a stranger standing next to him.
This is going to be a long lead up to what is a really brief anecdote. So after finals at my university I headed back to Connecticut where I remained for roughly 5 weeks. I didn’t leave the house much because I was barely breathing and didn’t want to run into people. I quickly became reclusive. After my season was over in the Spring, again I returned home but I was still very reclusive. Your confidence and self-esteem plummets during the grieving process. When I would go out in my hometown it would be with my parents, my brother and my cousins. Rarely did I go out without a family member nearby. That unconditional love family provides had to be within yards from me. Even this summer when I became severely ill, I was tentative to go out. I just had an internal fear of running into people and having the small talk of “I heard about your husband, I’m so sorry.” Or running into someone who had heard I got married but didn’t know he had passed. I had that happen a few times, and I feel like a bug getting squished by a massive boot.
So this past weekend I headed back to Connecticut with the new guy. My parents are out of the state so I didn’t have to worry about him meeting them. That may come, but just not right now. There were two big things going on: my CCSU Lacrosse alumni game and my former HS and college teammate’s 30th birthday party. It was a widow homecoming.
A lot of my former teammates hadn’t seen me since George passed. Only a couple had seen me over the summer, but I had mentally prepared for the awkwardness of seeing them especially with having someone other than George accompanying me. I warned new guy that he might get questions about it, but he told me at the end of the day he only got one serious inquiry about if I talk about George. But like most situations, in my head they were far worse than how they played out. It was amazing seeing my old teammates, and they were so happy that I’m starting to see someone new and wanted the details of it. One commented that I look happy, and I was. I think I am for the most part. The grief comes for a day or for hours, but no longer consumes my entire livelihood like it had.
When I went to the 30th birthday party, much of my reclusive behavior is to avoid people from high school, and by going I knew I would see so many classmates. There was this weirdness with being there, especially because all of them I hadn’t seen since before married. In some cases it had been years. But it was a mixed bag. Some asked about him dying, then others just were curious what I was up to. But again, it was pleasant and a relief that I’m still an undying pessimist when it comes to social situations.
As I’ve said posts ago, it is a hard battle to learn how to love and respect yourself after losing a loved one. I refused to let the grief kill me too, but I also didn’t expect I would have to come face-to-face with letting the past remain frozen in time.