When my late husband died, being busy became one of my coping mechanisms. Always somewhere to go, something to do. Downtime meant time to think. And I definitely didn’t want that.
For the last 6 years, I have kept my calendar jammed packed. Whether it is a meeting, a conference, or my son’s activities. Something to do almost every night of the week. Busy, busy, busy. No downtime.
I rarely refused an invitation. Someone would ask can I give that talk, my answer was yes. Another would ask can I attend this conference, again I said yes. My son plays two sports, I have time for that. I sit on various committees, no problem. Even found time to go back to school for my doctorate. What was good about my busy schedule was it gave me no time for myself. I was always doing for someone else. Too busy to stop and think about my own life. And that’s exactly what I needed. I needed to be busy. I needed to have something to do so I did not have time to think about Jared’s death.
I was happy with my crazy, hectic, no downtime schedule. And then COVID-19 happened. And the world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. Social distancing, self quarantine became our reality. No more conferences, no more meetings, no more sporting events. And suddenly my calendar was empty. I found myself with nothing to do. I was forced to slow down. Forced to have down time.
And you know what? I actually kind of like it. I realize I no longer need to be afraid of downtime. I realized I can be ok in the quiet. That I enjoy the quiet. That my heart is happier in the quiet.
When I think of Jared, my late husband, I smile. I have truly gotten to the point where I smile first. Yes, there are times that the tears still flow. Certain thoughts or memories make me cry. But the majority of the time, my first response to hearing his name, reliving a special memory, or seeing his picture is to smile. And I wouldn’t appreciate that if I was so busy. The forced downtime helped me to understand just how far I have come in my grief.
Jared and I created so many wonderful memories. We went on countless adventures. And he gave me my greatest blessing, our son. How could I not smile?
So I like this place I find myself. I’m still working each day. Helping my son with virtual school. Having social distancing happy hour. Yet my calendar is empty. I can spend time in the quiet. And listen to what makes my heart sing.
Maybe you too can find a positive in this forced downtime. Rediscover yourself. Take up a hobby you enjoy. Learn to love the memories. Enjoy the quiet.