During this Thanksgiving Eve as I am preparing for our family dinner, I am once again, reminded that “us” no longer exists in this realm of life. My husband isn’t helping me make the stuffing, peeling the potatoes, mischievously kissing me, or lovingly teasing our girls. My soul still cannot grasp the vastness of this void. His passing became the haunting death of “us.” My core is gutted. Who am I without my husband?  We were a team. My identity was tied up with being Mrs. Bargewell.  My whole adult life I was united and inclusively devoted to him. How have you dealt with re-finding yourself?

A few weeks ago, as I was attempting to sort through some of my husband’s possessions; I noticed a forgotten box in the far corner of the closet. It held my high school and college annuals. I grabbed my senior yearbook. It had been years since I had reminisced and looked through it. The first page I opened up to was the faculty page. One face caught my attention; a spiritual, insightful, warm teacher. She was a retired nun who taught Sociology of Religion. Her class broadened my understanding of other belief systems and in return reconfirmed my abiding faith. One day, she shared with the class that she had the gift of reading palms.

She studied my lines, curves, and finger lengths. She told me the year I would get married and that I had already, unbeknownst to me, met my husband to be. She then paused, seemed confused, and said that there was a fault in my life line. As if I was meant to experience an emotional death and a personal rebirth. I asked her at what age? She replied, “45.” At first this startled me; however, in her compassionate way, she soothed my anxiety, “Whatever life throws at you, Lisa, I believe that you and God will handle it together.” Now, at almost three years without my husband by my side, this vaulted memory reiterates to me that I can proceed robustly despite my stripped heart.

In some peculiar, hard to explain way, I feel like I have been thrown back, kicking and screaming to my youth; before I met my husband, when it was just “me.” During the time of learning, dreaming, planning, and discovering who I was.

Day after day, I carry out the tedious task of trying to piece the irregular shapes of my life back together. Consequently, the pieces never do interlock the way they used to. I am striving to give myself permission to merge my old self with my new self. It is a balancing act. To continue to envelop, cherish, and hold dear my marriage memories and who I became due to my husband’s unwavering love, plus, learning how to be accepting, affirming and engaged with my new identity.  As Fred Roger’s so eloquently stated, “Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”

Tomorrow as dawn breaks and Thanksgiving unfolds, if you are struggling with redefining and reinventing your life like I am, please know that you are not alone. Claim the knowledge that you are surrendering to the process of healing and that you have the courage to grow. My hope is that calmness, peace, and loving provisions will surround you as you rekindle and rediscover your new identity.

Abundant Blessings to You,

Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

My topic for next Wednesday: Surviving My Wedding Anniversary