One constant in life is change.
Shortly after John died, I was lying awake in bed restless. My nights were no longer peaceful. My anxiety had reached new levels. Before bed each night I would lock up the house, pull down all the blinds and close the shutters. I would check the doors and locks twice. Wendel and I would slowly walk up the stairs. I would enter my room, close, and lock the bedroom door. I am not sure what I was afraid of but at this point I think it was everything. I had been alone before when John was away on business trips. I would lay in the middle of the bed taking up all the room I could and sleep like a baby. It was wonderful and it was delightful when he came home. He always came home.
Now, I slept on my side of the bed with his side untouched. Alone.
As I lay there in our room, I realized it was not our room anymore. It was my room. Tears streamed down my face. I cried so hard my ears started to burn. Wendel came in close to make sure I was okay then he got up and lay on the floor. I was alone in our, in my bed.
I thought “I need to change this room. Its too brown and too matchy.”
Now before I go too far, John said to me one day in the hospital “Kath, get rid of anything you don’t like. I won’t be there so it won’t matter.” When I heard those words, I said with tears “What? I can’t think about that now. I don’t want to think about that ever. It matters, you matter to me” What I think he was really saying was that he will not be in things, he will be in my heart, always.
John knew me better than anyone. He knew without saying it that I would need to make some changes to help me cope. He knew part of how I coped was retail therapy.
After a few weeks I went to a lovely store in my area of town to see one of the designers. I told her I wanted to change my room. I needed to change my room. We booked a consultation. She was aware of John’s death. She was kind, cautious and always checked in to see how I was to make sure I never got overwhelmed.
She came over and we went straight to my room. I told her “I want to make it feminine. A woman’s room.” Her eyes lite up and she said “Wallpaper” and we went from there. Boy, did we ever. She took what I said and made it come to life in a way I couldn't.
Now this wallpaper is probably the most beautiful paper I have ever seen. It came in quickly and the man who was doing the work did a fabulous job. It was gorgeous. It was full of large peonies with so much detail you could even see a few insects here and there. I now had a glorious flower garden on my wall.
I sat on the bed and looked at it. It made me smile. I loved it. I cried when I thought of him…would he have liked it? I think he would have, but I don’t think we ever would have done it if he were still alive. The truth in all this change that I was creating is I had all the control. I didn’t have to run it by anyone. It was my room, my choice, my decision.
I wanted a new fabric bed frame completely different than the dark wooden one we had. We found a simple style I liked in a very pale pink almost blush coloured velvet to tie in with the beautiful curtains I already had and the wallpaper. I would need a new dresser and end tables.
Before anything was ordered I took the bed apart and slept with the mattress on the floor. I took the bedside tables and the bed frame to the garage. I had to get it all out. I’m not sure why but I really needed have it all out. Maybe it was so I could get a feel for the room striped down.
Over the past few weeks I had stopped closing all the shutters and blinds downstairs. I checked the locks twice and went up to bed without closing or locking the bedroom door. I had made some progress. My anxiety around being alone at night was subsiding. Maybe it was the changes I was making? I was getting used to the aloneness. Not getting used to being without him.
During all this change I was accompanying my oldest daughter and her family to Disney land for a week. My sister was staying at my place to take care of my animals. Oh, did I mention during all this I got a kitten. That’s another chapter.
The bed frame came when my sister was at the house. She sent me pictures and let me know she loved it. It was perfect she said. I didn’t know at the time but I was so glad I wasn’t there when it arrived.
I came home and walked into the room. It very nice. I still had the old dark wood dresser with the TV on it. I put a round glass table beside the bed with a stained glass lamp my father had made. It didn’t create much light for reading and the table was so small and low I kept knocking things off. It really didn't work. I decided to pick out my new dresser and one bedside table. Why would I need two? It was just me, one would do.
The room was in a state of flux not quite ours and not quite mine. It was okay. I got used to the way it was. It seemed like a good place to be. The bed frame and wallpaper brought me joy whenever I looked at them.
Then I got the call that my dresser, end table and mirror were being delivered that Friday. It was Monday. I was excited. I could hardly wait. It almost finished. It would be my room.
Thursday I was edgy and uncomfortable, emotional. Out of sorts. I felt sadness, guilt and uneasy. That night as I got into bed I sobbed. My ears burned, my throat felt like it was closing over as the tears and sobs came from deep within. “My God, its really going to be my room.” I cried. It was like the vail was lifted and I saw the reality that he was never coming back. This room was now mine, alone. I cried myself to sleep. I kept waking up and would burst into tears. What had I done? This was a mistake! Was I erasing him?
I woke in the morning exhausted knowing in the afternoon my room would be changed. I chose to change it. Strangely, I felt a sense of ease now. I didn’t feel like I was erasing him. He wasn’t in things, he was in my heart. John was right. He could never be erased. I sat and looked out the window and talked to him about what I was feeling and about how much I loved him. I felt peace for the first time in a long time.
That afternoon the delivery people brought everything in and the room was set up. It was beautiful. It is a woman’s room, my room. Everything flowed together and nothing was matchy matchy. It was just what I wanted and more. I loved it. BUT… I needed another bedside table. My dresser drawers were much smaller than my previous furniture. I laughed because although beautiful I needed to make some adjustments. Like donating some clothes.
This change was hard even though I made the decision to do it. It is said that whenever we make a change, we lose something in the process that’s the way it goes. There is a form of grief in change. For me, I was afraid of losing something I had already lost. Afraid I was erasing him. But I know that isn’t true. I will never forget or erase him. He is with me forever. Forever looks different.
Now the room is really mine and he is a welcome visitor anytime. I invite him into my dreams and have yet to meet him there. The door is always open.