Degree in Life

Today’s post is inspired by my widow friend Kim.  Kim is a bit insane, like most of my great widow friends.  We all have something that ticks a little different.  Kim is back in school for a degree in Marine Biology (I believe) and today she posted this:

“Just added another class to spring semester for a total of 19 hours. I can do this. And to make sure I can, I just bought the documentary “Oceans.” That way, whenever I get frustrated or want to give up or not study hard, I can watch it and think about how amazingly wonderful my future office and the wonderful creatures that live in it will be.

Plus the fact that my business wear will be shorts and flip-flops. And my tan. Oh my tan. ; p”

I immediately flashed.  I like using the word “flash” over “trigger” because to me, “trigger” gives a negative vibe.  I think of “trigger finger” like a bullet being released to destroy or kill.  “Flash” makes me think of something Thriller-esque, even if the memory recalled is far from it.  Lately I’ve been having a lot of flashes, and not the menopausal kind.  Memories of those first explorations into dating post-widowhood.  Attempts at recalling whether I completed something or if I left something unfinished.  Memories of last moments, of watching death.  Thankfully, after battling through 7 months of intensive EMDR therapy, most of the emotions that were attached to these recollections have subsided, but they still come along.

When Kim posted about signing up for 19 credits, I flashed to a picture of me sitting at my Kmart particle board desk in my first (of now 3) 3 room apartment in the city.  I remember the coffee can amplifier poking out the window in hopes of getting that free internet connection.  Arrest me if you want, I was on a budget (still am).  I remember sitting at that computer every.single.weekend while working 40-60 hours at week at Saturn in the service department.  I remember getting up early one morning a week to take a dreadful Accounting course (my one and only D my entire college career) in addition to the 3 online classes I was taking.  13 credits.  40-60 hour work week.  And did I mention while attempting all of this I was also still involved in my church’s worship band playing piano and beginning a long-distance relationship with Kevin?  Life was nuts.

But I do remember being happy.  I was heartsick at the distance with Kevin.  I was frustrated with my job.  My only big hope that was carrying me through was knowing that once I got through this semester I would be moving to Montana to then continue my studies after living there a year or so to gain residency.  I was going to switch majors to Recreation Management.  I had officially been accepted into the program and had made the official announcement to my friends and family about my move.  That was carrying me through more than anything.  The dream.

I only  have one regret.  I regret that I didn’t stick it out in Montana.  Yes, I know now that it was all for reason.  There were few jobs, and I couldn’t have supported us until he found one.  Granted, looking back now, I made more in Montana than I did once I returned to Pennsylvania as the economy began its downward spiral (all hindsight).  Had I been in Montana after Kevin and I married he never would have gotten the treatment he needed to live even 4 months after his diagnosis.  Most of all, I would have had a minimal support system (not to annul the fact that I met some amazing friends while there).  It would have been that much harder.

But now, as I see where my heart’s dreams lie, I wish I had gotten that degree.  I wish I was working in the parks system or in a nature-promoting job.  I wish I was making more money and was happier in my career.  I wish a lot of things.  All the crazy work I put forth since first starting classes for my degree in 2002, and finally completing SOMETHING in 2010 do not seem worthwhile at this point.  I feel I have nothing to show for it.  But that’s just how things feel right now.  Completing a business degree in a failing economy doesn’t exactly scream “smart”.

All my choices led to where I am now, who I am with, what I have been able to experience, and that is worthwhile.

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