We had a great time in Michigan for Thanksgiving. Maddie and Riley were rock-star travelers (thank you, Dora and Dum-Dums), and we were all spoiled by the entire family. It was incredibly rewarding to see the kids respond to their grandparents, aunt, and uncle; they just love spending time with all of them, and it allowed me to get a little bit of a break, too. We even survived a family portrait session on Sunday morning. That's saying something.
I'm having an incredibly hard time transitioning to being back home. We had an early morning flight yesterday, and so I spent the whole day in a fog after getting up at 3 a.m. and then dealing with the stress of travel, even hassle-free travel. I can't quite remember what I'm supposed to be doing at home or at work. I feel like I forgot all of our routines in the span of five days. My fridge is empty, but I don't know what to buy. I have completley misplaced my gym bag. I left a note to myself at work about some things to do immediately upon getting back to the office, and the note means nothing to me.
I just want to curl up with some tea—no, wait, some hot chocolate—and read. Or do puzzles with Riley. Or play "bunny house" with Maddie. Or bake cookies.
Or Christmas shop.
Yes, really. I don't like to shop, and I can't stand the overcommercialization of Christmas (and everything else) and I hate to feed into a culture that creates a desire to own more and bigger all the time. But I feel a real need this year to do something to show people close to me how much I care. So I'm building a list and coming up with ideas and we'll see how things go.
Until John's death, I was always the person that was early to every meeting, organized to the nth degree, had thank-you notes written before the gift was out of the original package, and paid my bills on a strict schedule. Now? Not so much. I pay my bills late all the time. All the time! Sometimes I don't write thank-you notes, and when I do, they are rather tardy. As I pointed out above, I can't seem to remember what my job is today.
I've writeen about this change before—from Type A organized supewoman to Type X unidentifiable slacker—but I still find it surprising that it's such a common manifestation of grief. I suppose it makes sense that when you're grieving, your mind dedicates so much space to the grief process that the other things get left by the wayside. What is surprising is how long it persists. Perhaps it's less a manifestation of the process of grief and more a manifestation of being a widow. I am certainly a different person now, in many ways, and perhaps this change is one of them.
I miss my old, organized self at times. I'm very good at being hard on myself, and by giving in to a life where I make little effort beyond the bare minimum gives me plenty of ways in which to beat up on myself. But there are things I like about the attitude and actions I have now. I'm amazed every month that the world doesn't stop spinning because I haven't balanced my checkbook. And that the electric company keeps letting me turn on my lights even though I only seem to pay them about half as often as I'm supposed to. Life is more forgiving than I ever thought it was, and lots of things I thought were Rules have turned out to be more like guidelines.
Where that ends, though, is with being less sensitive to friendships and support than I'd like to be. This holiday feels like the time to start turning that around. Of course, the first gift I bought was for Maddie, but still. I bought a gift! Today I've returned some really overdue e-mail and reconnected with some people I've neglected.
Tomorrow I might even remember what it is I do at work.