Muddle: to act in a confused or aimless way

Most days, I’m muddling through.

I make mistakes.

I forget to do things.

I forget when trash day is.

Or I just don’t take it out because it’s raining and I don’t want to.

I miss deadlines even when they are clearly marked in color on my calendar.

I forget to call someone or I just don’t. Or can’t.

Anxiety lurks.

I procrastinate.

I zone out.

My brain gets foggy. Thick.

My concentration wanders.

I can’t remember the names of friends’ children and grandchildren.

Time has become fluid. I don’t know if something happened three months ago or a year ago.

I can’t remember if I told someone something or just thought it.

I can’t remember words.
My speech is often halting.

I lose focus mid-conversation. “What? What did you say?”

I don’t say what I mean and have to start all over again, concentrating on using the right words.

(There’s a scientific reason for all of this behavior )

Sometimes I go to bed super early out of pure exhaustion or pure frustration, to put an end to the shitstorm of the day, to escape.

I don’t sleep well or enough.

My blood pressure is high.

I have breakdowns. Not as many as I used to. Rarely the kind which feel like I’ve cried myself inside out. But last month, after hitting a deer, having my doctor order tests for suspected rheumatoid arthritis, and finding out that my plumbing was leaking under my house, I broke. I got up the morning after I’d talked to the plumber, and I cried in the shower and on the way to work, at work, and teared up in the middle of a department meeting. I couldn’t shoulder one more damned thing.

I can’t do it all. The demands of daily adult life are tough, but they are intensified in the life of a someone who is grieving.

Yet, I know that I don’t have to be strong all the time. A dear friend reminded me of this truth as I cried last month at work.

So, I get up and go at it again each new day. I set my intention to do better. I ask God for strength. My dad’s advice echoes in my ears: do the best you can–that’s all your mother and I ever ask of you. Each new day, I say to myself, I will be a better person today. I might not have perfect clarity or be articulate or drink enough water, but dammit, I can try.

So, on the flip side of all of the memory lapses and mistakes and tears, I persist.

I’m figuring myself out. I’m reflective. I write for myself and for this blog. I’ve joined a writing group at the public library. I’ve moved. I get up every day and teach over 100 students. I visit my parents as often as possible and feel grateful to have them both so near. I have a second part-time teaching job. I buy tools and fix things I’m capable of doing myself. If I don’t feel like cleaning the whole bathroom, I scrub the sink today and the shower tomorrow. I cook and do laundry and recycle and pamper my pets and pay my bills and make plans for summer. I redirect every “how are you?” to whoever is asking and try to listen with compassion to their responses. I feel wiser. I know if I want change, I have to create it.

I’m not quitting on myself just because Todd isn’t here to love me. I try to remember that he did love me, and remembering what he loved about me reminds me that I’m worth my effort.

Yes, I’m muddling through.


Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother. She had a huge crush on her husband Todd Kleffman, a journalist, when she was in high school, and she'd save his columns and stories. Decades later, she and Todd found each other through Facebook. He was the love of her life, her high school crush, and she was his biggest fan. She lost Todd in October 2017 to a heart attack. She has found solace in Hope for Widows and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows by sharing her experiences here.

Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie