Ever since Jack died, more than one person has told me that I'm "strong." So today's question is: What is "strength?"
As a couple, Jack and I were strong. I was stronger with him than I was alone. We got through a lot of stuff including an out-of-state move, layoffs, me being a stay-at-home mom and setting my career aside for a few years & a baby that needed serious surgery before she was 3 months old. (She's fine now.) We also adapted to Jack's heart disease, and we got more regular exercise and changed our diet. Low sodium, low fat, Subway, and the YMCA became a way of life for us. And now it's as if half of me is gone. Yet people still think I'm "strong."
Strength is continuing with life even though you don't want to without the person you love most there with you. Strength is putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow. Strength is coming up with a new weekly routine for the kids so they have a sense of stability. Strength is maintaining nighttime rituals and adapting them as needed since one person who did them with you is gone. Strength is finding new support people after someone you thought was a close friend ends the frienship, without telling you why, just a couple of weeks after your husband has died. Strength is taking care of business, paying bills, and dealing with insurance companies and hearing Jack say, "Thank you for taking care of that." in your head. Strength is putting his beloved Jeep up for sale even though your 5 year-old has begged you not to because by the Jeep being gone she'll "know Papa is really gone and isn't coming back." Strength is maintaining your "no" to your child in the store no matter the begging or tantrum because you know consistency is better than your kid thinking that the louder they yell, the more likely you are to change your mind. Strength is maintaining discipline with your kids no matter how much you want to "just let it go." Strength is going back to the YMCA and getting back on that damned treadmill despite wondering "why bother?" after what you went through with your husband.
The list could go on and on. What I've learned is that just because a person is "strong" doesn't mean that it's an easy thing to be strong. It's what has to be done for your own well being and that of your children even if it is hard as hell sometimes.