The Changing of Linda

Author: Linda Ambard

Everybody hurts sometimes.  I still do.  As I stare down the quickly approaching three year milestone, I am feeling alone and slightly adrift.  It started this week with a holiday I don't even like all that much.  Valentine's Day was never that big of a deal when Phil was alive.  Sure we exchanged cards and went out for dinner at some point, but it wasn't something either of us put a lot of effort into.   For some reason this year, Valentine's Day is gouging me.  This day has become my "Single Awareness Day."

Linda Ambard

There is nothing like feeling I am totally invisible or like my widow status makes me less than desirable than facing this holiday and being told the same week that I cannot leave a medical procedure alone even if I call a cab.  I realized I had no one to call.  I realize how alone I am and I want a change, but change is daunting and scary.

It would seem after having gone through so many forced changes in terms of employment, deciding where to live, and buying a house and a car, I would be better equipped with self-confidence in terms of my personal life, but that is not the case.  I am inherently shy.  I struggle in groups and new situations.  While we all have areas that we are weaker in, I flounder in connections that have depth.

I didn't need any more than my Phil or our five children.  I dutifully followed him all over the world creating a home and a sense of adventure for all of us.  I never let myself get too attached to anyone, a place or a job because I knew I would be leaving.  Home was Phil and my family until he was killed in 2011.  The last of my children left the house; four are in the military serving all over the world.  Phil deployed for what was supposed to be a one year deployment.  It was easy to wait when I thought I would be waiting for a year until that year stretched into forever.

I like to joke that I never would've had a midlife crisis except this way.  This is not the life I ever thought would be mine.  I feel invisible and old in the military culture where I work.  I am the visible reminder to people as to what can happen, and I don't fit in with families any more.  I am too old to fit in with the young airmen, and the people where I live have been here so long they are wary of outsiders.  I lack the skills and the confidence to believe that I can fit in on my own merit. I am struggling with a lifetime badge of feeling ill at ease in new situations and in groups.

The struggle, however, is tempered with knowing that unless I change something, I am going to be alone.  I have a medical procedure in March.  I am not allowed to drive myself home or take a cab home.  Who do I call?  Who will do this for me?  I have no 911 friends living in the immediate area.  When I have to go to the hospital, my choice is to do it myself or to call an ambulance.  That single sobering thought smacked me and laid me bare this week.  I simply cannot, nor do I want to, be alone like this forever.  I have more-more to give, more to love, and more to dream.

Change is not easy especially when there is nothing about where I am that I ever desired.  I knew who I was when I was married to Phil.  I was an Air Force wife and a mom to Patrick, Josh, Emily, Alex, and Tim.  Now, I am a woman that is beginning to consider dating and hoping for a chapter two, not because I think Phil can be replaced, but because I simply have more to give.  I have room between the holes of my heart to love again.  Yes, that love will be different because I am different.  I have changed because I had to.  I also discovered that I had needs I never knew I had when I was married to Phil.  The difference is that while I may love again, there will always be unfilled spaces in my heart.

Change is daunting because it requires uncomfortable action on my part.  It is easier to sit in isolation and have my ongoing pity party, but if I truly want a future that isn't so bleak with loneliness, then I must trust in the girl who was loved well for 25 years and in the girl who loved well for 25 years. I must take a deep breath, and I need to take risks.  While I have gotten better at being a friend and establishing deep roots in my friendships, I still retreat and hide far too often.  The time has come for me to pull up my big girl panties and take some faltering steps into my chapter two.