Last week as I drove to take Julia to ballet class I turned on my car radio full blast and proceeded to belt out the song pouring from my speakers complete with dramatic arm flourishes and impassioned facial expressions as I waited at a stop light. In mid-verse I casually glanced next to me to see a young man in a sporty red car staring with his mouth agape watching me as I performed full out “Car-aoke” in my SUV. But I was not rocking out to the late great Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” or even Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” I was performing my own interpretative dance to “Let it Go” from the smash Disney hit Frozen. Broadway icon Idina Menzel, who voices the frosty princess Elsa and I were locked in a passionate duet about breaking free from restraints; hers of the frosty self repressive kind and mine, I’m not quite sure. But as I belted out lyrics like , “Let it go, let it go; You’ll never see me cry…” I was reminded of a conversation I had with someone, a business connection who I would also be comfortable calling a friend, in May of last year.
During the dinner we had together I talked very openly about Wesley’s life and my feelings of his passing and the ways I’m coping with this new widowhood and single-motherhood. Two roles I could not have ever imagined for myself. I used very well rehearsed language and spoke with steady voice and confidence because in my work that is what I do. I speak with conviction and poise about fundraising needs for FSU. The business contact uttered the oft repeated comment of how strong I seemed but that he knew there were times I was not like that. I admitted that yes there are many times where I am struggling for breath and have cried so much that my body cannot make tears quickly enough and I sob without fresh tears coursing down my face. He said, “But you will never let most people see that” and I quickly replied , “No, I won’t” I was even at the time surprised that my reply was that of instant stoicism. “You’ll never see me cry…”
I find myself often caught in that conundrum. I never thought I’d be someone who fell apart at a moments notice but I am finding myself less stoic of late. The ice that I have used to try and frost my heart in an effort to keep the deep freeze of sadness at bay is starting to thaw. I cling to the familiar routines of how life was when Wesley was alive, desperate to have something feel the same but nothing is the same now.
I have written before about how there is this desire among other people that I get back to myself pre-March 30, 2013, but that girl is gone. There are glimmers of my former self like snow crystals that catch the light, but that is all there is; a quick flash and then it is just snowy whiteness again. I realize that I am comfortable talking about Wesley because if I talk about him, he is still alive to me. If Julia talks about him, he is alive to her and that is of paramount importance to me. But I cling to normalcy of work, house cleaning and other activities. I have come to the realization that the person who was most waiting for Katherine to get “back to normal” was me.
In clinging to the familiar I have thought that if I just push hard enough and keep everything the same then magically I’ll be the same girl eventually and then maybe this past year will not have happened. Wesley will be here hiding Easter eggs with Julia and the jagged hole in my heart will be gone. The half written book of our life together will still be told with new tales of love and laughter. But that is not real. Holding on to the thought that I can will our lives to be different is the ice castle that I build, frozen water that will melt with too much sun. I have to let it go. I do not mean let Wesley go, as that is not possible, but let the expectation of myself to change the unchangeable melt away. I’ll never be the same, Julia will never be the same and I’m ready to build a warmer home for us. Warmed by the fire of Wesley’s memory and the love we have, just the three of us. Wesley is the warmth I feel in my heart as the ice melts and I’m ready for Spring.