“What’ll I Do…

…when you are far away, and I am blue, what’ll I do?

I found myself humming this Irving Berlin song recently, and then realized that the lyrics reflect my feelings as I adjust to life without Dale. What will I do? How do I fit in this world without you?

Although episodes are not as intense or as frequent as they were in the early months of grieving, there are still times when I feel acutely disoriented. In my mind’s eye, I see myself flailing about, as if suddenly swept up by an ocean wave, and I struggle to find my footing, to sense anything solid.

The physical presence of the one who so often extended his hand to help me with balance is gone.

Not only is he gone, but my daily focus—my purpose, even—is gone, too. During the last years of Dale’s life, my role as caregiver was clear. It was how I lived. It was the primary way I loved.

Righting myself in the turbulence does not always happen readily. However, when I remember this advice from a friend in recovery, I can begin:

“Just do the next right thing.”

The reminder itself is centering. I stop flailing as I consider what the “next right thing” might be. Sometimes it’s as basic as eating breakfast or taking a walk. Other times the next right thing is to call someone or offer to help a neighbor. I find my footing again in these actions. I sense the ground beneath me.

As a young adult I fretted about whether I was in the right vocation. I spent time wondering, searching, looking for the “right fit.”

While preparing for a job interview during that period of my life, I was in prayer and these words came to me: “It doesn’t matter what you do; it’s with how much love you do it.”

May I remember this every day and know more and more: loving actions center my life. It is here where I find ground under my feet.

Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…”

(passage from Ephesians 2 that was on the front cover of our wedding bulletin)