Aunt Micki's husband died about five years ago. They had been married for more than 50 years, and she had dedicated the last seven or so years of his life to caring for him as his ailments, again and again, sent him to the hospital then rehab then home. When he died, her biggest task was getting accustomed to what she dubbed the "new normal."
When my Mom died in September, we all had to adjust to a new normal. She and Louise (my Mom) were born just 13 months apart. Louise moved down to Florida permanently and lived in the same active senior community as Micki. They were attached at the hip, even more so after Bill died. And when Mom was diagnosed in early 2017, it was Micki who took on the task yet again for caring and nurturing someone in ill health. Though there were bad stretches in the 2.5 years between her diagnosis and her death, Mom lived quite the active life during that time, only just stopping her thrice-weekly golfing this past summer. For Micki, the new normal has got to be hard as everywhere she goes, Louise is absent.
And my new normal? Meh.
I miss my Mom. I miss hearing her voice for real and not just in my head and in the voicemail messages I never deleted. It's been nearly two months, which means I'm past the timespan between my visits to her. I should be leaving on a red-eye tomorrow morning to spend five days with her. I should be in constant contact with her. But that's not the new normal.
The new normal for me is avoiding looking in the corner of my desk at the unopened sympathy cards sitting atop the box of her cremains. It is making her sour cream coffee cake in the tube pan that was hers. It's wearing her emerald ring and earrings, putting my hair back so the earrings are visible (something I just don't do as a rule). It's turning on the cow lamp that her sister Joanne gave her that Micki thought was ugly but that I relished as much as Mom did. It's wearing her pair of docksiders, her outrageously vibrant golf socks, and the fox shirt my cousin Deb gave her.
In sum? The new normal is just new. And normal.