Parallel Lives

 In Grief

“I wonder what my life would be like if my husband had lived”.

When I was at the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation’s Camp Widow West in San Diego in August, I overheard several widows speaking these exact words.  Due to the death of their spouses, their lives took a dramatic turn and they were forced into a different direction.

As a nation, we just observed the 11th anniversary of 9-11 and we were reminded that so many lives had been sadly redirected as a result of that tragic day. Partners were no longer able to hug one another anymore. Childhoods were cruelly interrupted. Co-workers and friends would not see each other the next day. Life was very different from that moment on for everyone.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile. “(Unknown)

Those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one may feel “left behind”.  Although we can feel comfort from our faith, our earthly level of understanding does not permit us to fully know their whereabouts. We trust that they are resting in peace, but we know that we have to go on without them.

One can’t help but ponder from time to time….What if we were still together?… What if this tragedy never happened? While we are processing our grief and saying goodbye, we are also realigning our tomorrows. During this difficult time there are naturally moments when we want to comfortably slip back into a safe, familiar space.

The pieces eventually get put back into a new order. That then becomes our new reality. Or, is it in fact our original fate? None of us is allowed to preview the upcoming chapters of our lives. We have to live the pages as they turn.

I sometimes wonder how my own life would have been different if David’s accident had never occurred. I refer to this vague place as my “parallel life”. It is a friendly shadow that sometimes follows me. Would our children be on the same career paths? Would they have turned out as strong and sensitive as they are today? Would we still be living in the same house? Would we have finally taken the trips that we put off until later?

I do know that I would not have written my book and opened up my heart to so many others in the way that I have done so since my life’s detour. I would not have felt the love and connected with so many new, wonderful people. When my straight and narrow journey veered off in 1993, it seemed like I would never come out of the darkness and into the light again. But I have learned to accept that it was really my destiny, and the little “whispers” that still guide me today are the road signs telling me that I am on the right path. They also led me to open up more space in my heart and along with that came another family to blend with mine.

This is the path that I was meant to be on. I didn’t get here in the way that I would have chosen, but God didn’t ask for my suggestions. He knew better. I do not look back with regrets and bitterness. It is more of a curiosity and now I appreciate the big picture.

I hope if you have been redirected in your life, that you can take the time to understand and accept your new pathway. Your loss could be a relationship, a job, a sense of status, or even an opportunity that has slipped away. It could be a lessening of physical ability or mental sharpness. It is a piece that is gone.

It is hard to change when we do not request it. It can come with pain and hardship. Sometimes we are even redirected several times and we may shout out in frustration, “Why me again?”!

“Storms make oaks take roots.” (Proverb)

I like my life. I have learned to be comfortable where I am and I am grateful for all of the loving people that have passed through my life and for those who are still with me. But sometimes in a quiet moment my mind veers off to that other incomplete life and I wonder…

Do you have a “parallel life” that you think about from time to time? Is it a good memory? Have you moved forward?  Do you still look back?

I wish you comfort and understanding.





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