I spend a lot of time these days thinking about what it was like to have Mike around. I find myself lost in this dreamland of days gone by - not really remembering anything in particular, not necessarily a specific memory of something we did together - I just find myself trying to grasp that mindspace where he still existed. What it felt like when he was in the house...what it felt like when he was still in my life. It happens randomly - I just sort of "come to" and realize I'd been staring into space, traveling back in time in my head. It's so close - and yet so far away.
It's like trying to remember a most delicious flavor of something I ate a long time ago. I can remember it was spicy or savory, or crunchy or sweet, but I can't ever experience that taste sensation again, because the ingredients are now unavailable and forever off the menu of my life.
It's also tremendously difficult to try and describe to someone else how delicious it was if they can never taste it for themselves. And more and more these days I find I don't even bother trying.
For awhile after Mike died my life was locked in this bleak, rigid, grief-stricken place where I was afraid to move. I only existed in a very narrow margin - my small corner of my little world where I just went through the motions, stumbling blindly through my days, only doing the bare minimum to survive. I really couldn't function any more than that. If anything else changed around me it would be just too hard. If I allowed life back in, I might somehow lose some part of him, and forget the way things were. I was afraid to taste anything new, only frantically trying to savor those last few drops of a lost life on my tongue.
For a long time I didn't socialize...I didn't meet anyone or even really leave the house other than to gather another round of frozen dinners. For the most part, other than a couple of dear fellow widows I met, the only people I talked to were those who had known Mike - who understood who he was, and remembered their share of the individual spirit that he was. Back then, I didn't need to explain the gaping hole in my life, because I was otherwise alone in my misery.
Now, there are all kinds of new people in my life. And yes, at first my widowed status was one of the first things out of my mouth, usually along with an attempt to describe who he was and what I lost. But I realize: they never really get it. And it's not their fault, I understand...I just can't do it anymore. And it's really not for any other reason than...and as I type this I'm fighting feelings of guilt, or that people might think I'm in a bad place - but it's really only that right now, I'm just tired. I'm tired of trying to explain about him, and us. Or maybe I want to protect the memory of him and keep him all to myself. And maybe that sounds selfish. But my life with Mike was mine. Mine and his. It is like having a special, personal stash of secret memories and feelings I am just unwilling to share haphazardly, because the casual telling of it will never begin to compare to the actuality of who he was, or what it was really like to have him around.
It's not like he doesn't deserve to be memorialized - he does. He really, really does...and the writing of the book has that express purpose. But in daily, casual life these days, especially around people who never knew him or who have not experienced this level of personal loss...I find I tend to clam up about it, or answer very briefly and curtly and then change the subject. Instead of opening to that deep, painful, complicated, frustrating place of lost love...I'd just rather not. It's too hard. It's too long a story. So sometimes, I'd just really rather not elaborate, thank you very much.
I don't think it's necessarily a "bad" thing, these feelings. They might seem harsh, to someone on the outside. But maybe, just maybe, it's a fork in the road of building my own new recipes for life that will someday serve to nourish my starving soul.