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  • Writer's pictureKatie Beucus

In My “Mow the Lawn in Birkenstocks With Socks, 35 Year Old Widow” Era

I was mowing the lawn today, in my Birkenstocks with socks as the title suggests, when a memory came flooding over me. Aaron always said that when he was younger and scared, he felt safest outside. Even in the dark. I always thought it was such an odd thing, to feel safe in the big dark outside, vulnerable to so much.

And then Aaron got sick and we spent so much time in his hospital rooms. And when I’d leave at night I’d have this dying urge to go lay in our cold grass. To get as close to the earth outside as I possibly could. Only then did I begin to understand what he meant about feeling safest outside.

These last few weeks have hit me hard and have found me wanting to lay back down in the grass. I always talk about how the body keeps the score. No matter how much work you’ve done, and how far out you feel from your experiences, the body always remembers. For me, Aaron’s death (2/4), funeral (2/15), formal diagnosis (3/7), and birthday (3/21) all fall within a matter of 6 weeks. And then Marley, the last dog Aaron and I raised together, died this year, somewhat unexpectedly and in a traumatic way, smack dab in the middle of it all on 2/17.

While Aaron died a little over a year ago now, I have been grieving him and the loss of the life and future we dreamed of, for over two years. Grieving someone before they actually die is not uncommon, it’s just that no one really talks about it because how much of an ass hole do you look like to outsiders feeling sad about the death of a person who is still very much alive. The arm chair quarterbacking that afflicts the grieving and surviving spouses is really something special. Have you no hope?!

But I very much did just that for the first four months of Aaron’s fight. We only had a 3% chance of winning our federal workers comp case. To hire an attorney to fight for us would have cost thousands of dollars in discovery work alone and the one we talked to said they wouldn’t even take on the Department of Labor. So I set out to learn everything I possibly could about Aaron’s disease, a blessing in that I won his case on my own. A curse in that when I read every paper and journal and study on his disease that I could get my hands on, I knew from very early on how bad things were. So yes, I grieved his death long before he died, keeping as much to myself as I could, for as long as I could, trying to protect him.

All that said, just recently has it settled in that this is my life. I am IN this.

I was 33 when Aaron was diagnosed and 34 when he died. I didn’t feel young at the time, but looking back now, having lived through so much in such a short span of time, it feels like I was just a kid. I am 35 now and will turn 36 (Aaron’s age at diagnosis) in June with more life experience under my belt than I ever expected or wanted. If I am lucky, I have a very big and long life ahead of me still. And if I’m being honest, right now it feels terrifyingly overwhelming. Almost paralyzing if I sit with it for too long.

Prior to Aaron getting sick, from the earliest days of summer I’d have the kids out swimming from 3 PM until bath and dinner time. It was that bridging activity that carried me through the long days until it was either bedtime or Aaron got to come home.

Life lately has felt like a constant ache for those after swim summer evenings. To feel relief. To be comforted and hugged and told I’m doing great, or that things will be ok. I never anticipated the loneliness I would feel. I have family and wonderful friends and a house full with two kids and two cats and two chickens and a gecko and a puppy. Who can be lonely with all that!

And I can do the things. Pay the bills, maintain the yard, sports and baths and bedtimes and all the meals and haircuts and car maintenance and house maintenance and groceries and snack days and field trips and open houses and laundry and sickness and holidays and birthdays. I can do it. I AM doing it.

But it’s not the same. And no matter what my future life looks like, it will always be different than what my life was. And maybe these feelings are temporary. Regardless, I need to maintain the courage to be ok. I have put so much pressure on myself to do this right but there is no roadmap for this new life or how to do it right.

And so lately I’ve been sitting with all of this and it is an incredibly uncomfortable space. I’ve always been a planner. And I have not a single plan. This life is new and it’s scary. But I know from experience, nothing is permanent. Not even this ❤️

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