Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New Life

"Leading" Granbury, TX
Acrylic on Board  10.5" x 8"

I have a movie. 

Okay, it's really a Hitchcock film staring Laurence Olivier, but it is titled "Rebecca" and Rebecca doesn't even appear in the film as a character. She is a phantom, a lingering memory that haunts a younger second wife who sees only the outward carefully crafted public persona of the first, falls victim to comparing herself and comes up lacking in her own mind. How could her new husband ever love her after Rebecca?

I saw this film for the first time in college after fellow photography students expressed shock I was unfamiliar with it given my name and my penchant for moody, dark photos that could fit a film noir theme. I could see myself in the second wife rather than Rebecca. Young, plagued by self-doubting inner turmoil, though I could hide it better. 

Now I find myself in the role of the husband. Trying to go on with my life, find love and be happy after losing a spouse. If you've seen the movie, you know the similarities end there. It is a dark tale riddled with secrets and lies and I've striven for honesty in my life. For the past few months I've watched someone else struggle in the role of the second wife. It would be easier to step into a life where divorce had taken place, where an animosity had built up causing a split. Instead my boyfriend finds himself with someone who was in love, who was happy and had it ripped away by tragedy. Early on he found himself making comparisons or thinking that I was. The specter of a dead husband lingered in the corners watching him. He wondered if he was just fulfilling a role. Did I really care for him or did I just need to fill a hole? I know friends and family of us both were likely wondering the same thing. The doubts almost ended us. 

But I had grown emotionally. I wasn't the scared 21-year old anymore. I had gained confidence. Knew who I was. Knew what I wanted. Know what is important in life and how easily it can be taken away. I have to credit my late husband with much of my emotional growth. He taught me that I had intrinsic value; taught me to believe in myself. They say wisdom comes with age. Perhaps for some, but I think it's learned from how you choose to handle life's hardships that can happen at any age.

I have patience. He has a kind heart. He has intelligence. His priorities match my own. He makes me laugh. I could wait. 


He started a calendar and has a system of little dot stickers. He thought I would laugh at this. One color is for exercise, one for 'productive' and one for creative. He has definitions about what activities fall under these categories and how many times a week he should accomplish each; acknowledging that ALL have an important role in creating a balanced, happy life. I only learned about a fourth color recently. The category is "love" and it's not just about me. He defines it as doing something unexpected like buying me a little gift, but also as playing ball with the dogs when he really didn't feel like it, but because it would make THEM happy. I found myself tearing up. How could this person have ever thought that he had nothing to offer me? 

I admire him. I respect him. I saw the good in him even if he didn't see it in himself. I know we are still learning about each other and growing. We are both willing to listen to the other and make compromises when necessary. I find that I am happy. Really happy with my life as it stands right now and that's the true objective isn't it?

In the movie, the house and everything that was Rebecca burns to the ground. All tangibility of her existence is erased. My late husband helped me become the person that I am today. I will always remember and love him. I do not need or want to erase him. I chose to use what I learned in that relationship to continue to live and to be happy. I know that is what he would want for me.