Over the past two months, I have gone back through every single one of the 1,400+ posts here on my blog, as part of the new Just Frances re-build. It was a somewhat tedious process as I was working to update all the photos, links, categories, and keywords. That meant that I had to re-read (or at least skim) all the posts, and I chose to do that in chronological order.
I don’t know what I expected at the start of the process, but it became quite the stroll down Memory Lane at times. And let me just tell you that some sections of Memory Lane are extremely bumpy!!
It took about two weeks to tackle the first two years of the blog, which also marked my first two years of widowhood and the immense grief that went along with it. Those first two years weren’t just about missing Paul though, which is a rocky enough path on its own. Those two years were also the part of the Just Frances story that included so many other hard things like saying goodbye to our cat and our home for the hopes of a brighter future. Those two years were filled with huge decisions that would shape my entire future – a future that was nowhere close to what I had envisioned pre-widowhood.
In those two weeks, I found myself crying a lot. And at times I could feel the scars from that intense early grief throbbing inside of my heart and soul. I was remembering and, in a way, re-living some of the worst parts of my life. It was painful… but bearable.
Of course, it was bearable because there were happy moments within those two years. However, those happy moments also made me sad because I could sense the pain behind each moment of (sometimes fake) joy. I knew there was pain even on those happy days and I found myself remembering the agony that I felt so very often during those early years of widowhood.
Yes, those two weeks were hard. But they weren’t so hard that I was sent into a period of sadness. In fact, most of the time the tears and the heartache only lasted a moment or two as I was reading the post and preparing it for the new site. I think that was because I knew the story got better. I knew that there was a happy (enough) future waiting for me further along in the blog. I didn’t have the same level of uncertainty in re-reading the heartache as I felt when I was living the heartache.
Oh, what a saving grace that was!!
After those early Just Frances posts were completed, I was relieved to start on posts from late-2011 onwards. By then, my story saw me return to Scotland to complete my master’s degree followed by the start and finish of my PhD. In between, there were many joyful and wonderful things. Like running my first marathon and running my (as of now) last marathon. There were holidays to see friends and holidays to see my family. And there were so many posts about my improved state of being and my increased confidence.
Yes, the early grief that had paralysed me shortly after widowhood began was beginning to fade and whilst my heart was still shattered, it was beating, and slowly but surely, I was moving forward in my life. Of course, no one’s life is all sunshine and laughter, so there were plenty of posts that brought a tear or two scattered in there. But unlike the first two years, the sorrows were far, far outpaced by the joys!
This little journey through the past ten years has been extremely cathartic. It has reminded me of how far I’ve come since Paul died. I can see so clearly that my life is so different today than it was then and that I have been travelling in a positive direction. Yes, there will always be those people who think that I am stuck in the past because I still think about Paul; because I talk about Paul; because I love Paul. But those people clearly don’t really know me or my life because, as I have said before, my life is so very different now than my life was on my last day of married life. I have moved forward by leaps and bounds. And this stroll down Memory Lane reminded me of that in large doses! And yes, Paul is still with me in my heart and soul, where I will keep him for eternity. But as I’ve also said before, my heart has the capacity for more love!
I know that there will be more grief in my life as loss is part of the human experience. But at least I know that I can survive it – even though I sometimes worry that I haven’t survived widowhood. Indeed, having just travelled down Memory Lane, I am reminded of just how far I have travelled. And I am reminded of all the wonderful things that have been found along the way.
To those of you who’ve been with me from the start, thank you for your ongoing support here on Just Frances and out there in The Real World. To those who’ve just stumbled upon this ramble, thank you for making it to this final paragraph – and feel free to stick around and read more!