The road ahead

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Walking on the beach on what would have been my 12th wedding anniversary was a perfect way to mark a day that is taking on changed meanings. It was a beautiful sunny day, the sea was wild and the wind blew strong and clean. We walked, huddled and chatted in the sand dunes and ate a hearty lunch in a nearby pub.

I now have three strong memories of my anniversaries since Mark died: flying to San Francisco; being in Newcastle for the Hidden Civil War events and now a day of sunshine and friendship on the beach. Gradually, a day that was mine and Mark’s is becoming a day to remember him, and the sunny, beautiful days that marked the beginning of our relationship and marriage, as well as the things we did subsequently to acknowledge a year having passed. But those thoughts didn’t dominate the day.

Like a stone rubbed smooth by water, grief is becoming something different, memories are acquiring new layers. And I’m realising that the past doesn’t hold me now. It seems that these past three years the focus has largely been on grief and finding my feet in this new reality. While I have given thought to the future, to rebuilding my life, the past, my memories, the absence of Mark has always been there.

Now I can sense a shift, and it seems that the sorting of memories, the pulling on the threads of the life I had with Mark and the weaving of them into a new reality is maybe done for now. It feels like it’s time to move on.

There’s a precariousness to this, because while I am looking to the future now, I find I want to reassure myself that moving on in no way means I don’t honour Mark’s memory, don’t miss him, don’t feel sharp twinges of pain that he’s not in my life. But I also know that honouring the life we had together isn’t done by staying put. I need to move forward.

It’s here that I remember again that the part of the Theory U diagram that seemed most unknown to me was the upward sweep. The downward part, the seeing with fresh eyes, the letting go, and the bottom of the ‘u’ that is defined by presenting, those I have become more familiar with. But the part that is about letting come, crystallising vision and intention, prototyping the new by linking head, heart and hands and performing by operating from the whole, that seems like new, open territory. After living through such a mighty fall following Mark’s death, I know that the idea of things happening to me, things that I don’t measure and control stirs up a lot of fear. It would be so tempting to just try to keep safe, but what hold my nerve and allow the new to come?