Over the past couple of weeks I have been answering some questions from various readers about mine and Vee's relationship. I hope they have been helpful and eye-opening. Recently in a comment I was asked the question "Do you ever fear that your continual talk about your past will prevent you and Vee from making memories of your own?"
I want to start by saying I think that this question may be a common fear for people who are dating a widow(er). There was definately a time when I wondered if Vee would have the desire to make new memories with me because of her desire to hold on to her memories with Jeremy. While it is a nice idea to think that one can meld the past and present together while looking towards the future, Vee will agree that she struggles sometimes exactly how to put that into practice. I am not saying it can't be done, in fact I would argue that it can. What I am saying is that it's a balancing act that requires grace and open communication from both people.
Simply stated, I don't think talking about the past is something I fear will hinder mine and Vee's future. In fact, I think that talking about the past is one of the best ways to gain understanding for the non-widowed person and can give healing and acceptance for the widow(er). Talking gives our soul an outlet. Sharing memories, stories, and hurts is a great way to build trust, show support, and practice unconditional love towards your widowed partner. I believe the trickiest part in making new memories is not in the talking about the past, but feeling free to move into and accept the future.
As I have said before in different blog posts there are many different reminders thoughtout our house of Jeremy's life. There are pictures hanging up, a few articles of clothing still around, some tools in the garage, a few guns and some electronics in the basement. These items don't make me feel insecure or threatened. There are pieces of Jeremy and Vee's life together. They tell a story. They share an experience. They bring meaning. The stir precious memories....but they are not monuments.
It may be a fine line but I think there is a difference between memories and monuments. Memories can be shared. While the deceased is not physically here, memories are living. Memories are special and valuable but they are also a gift and can be passed on. Memories may make us cry but they can also make us smile and laugh. Memories live on through stories, sharing, and special everyday moments.
Monuments, however, are not living. They stand as solemn, fixed, and ominous pieces. They may remind us of the past but only in somber tones. Monuments can't exist as everyday pieces in a life because they are no pliable to fit into the context of a daily routine. They rarely bring about a smile or laughter. Monuments can be visited, but cannot be "shared" like memories. And, unlike memories which are free for others to experience and be a part of, monuments are "untouchable."
In our house there are many things that stir memories of Jeremy... but there are no monuments. While some may choose to place in their home a monument (something fixed and untouchable) this is not the route that feels comfortable to us. There is nothing so fixed in Vee's life or grief that I feel like I must walk on eggshells. There is nothing so looming from Jeremy's life that I feel my own existence in our home is diminished. There is nothing that Vee has set up in our life, relationship, or home that would make me think or feel for one second that our memories together are less important or not equal to her life and relationship with Jeremy. Instead, the memory pieces that exist are there to provide opportunities for Vee, me, and the kids to touch, hold, and remember Jeremy's life and - at the same time - allow us to grow into who we are as a couple and a family.
So, while this blog (and Vee's blog) deals a lot with memories of Jeremy its important to recognize that we have chosen these outlets to reach out to others who are in similar situations as ours. We don't talk about our normal, everyday lives, or our children, or much of anything else because these blogs are a tool for us to help others in a very specific area. Outside of these blogs, if all Vee and I talked about was her memories of Jeremy then that would be a different story. But as it stands, Vee's memories of Jeremy are just one part of our life. Its an accepted piece of our relationship. Its how I came to know Vee and how she came to be the person she is today... but it does not define us and who we are as a couple together.