I said to my stepdaughter yesterday after another conversation about some of the fallout in our lives since her Dad died, wow, we've learned so much about grief. It's not something we asked for, but now we understand things like what to say and what not to say to people in mourning. And we can relate to other people who are experiencing loss, with all those details of a reality without our loved ones.
She was telling me how for many months after he died she would reach for the phone to call him, then after a beat remember he was gone. I think we all have had those moments. A lot of us probably have that shock every morning for a long time. That beat it takes for us to wake up to the new, terrible reality that they are gone. But she said that it had been awhile since she reached for the phone like that. It seemed sad to her, somehow, that her brain had maybe processed the reality of his death on another level and stopped making that mistake. I get that. Because it has been a long time since I woke up with that morning jolt too. And there is a grim finality to that realization.
I find it interesting, now writing here at Widow's Voice, how sometimes our posts deal with similar material. Our experiences are individual and personal - and yet, there is a certain commonality.
A week or two ago both Sarah and Cassie wrote about songs, the lyrics, and how the timing and experience of hearing certain ones at certain times makes us think of our husbands, and our loss, in certain ways. Their stories are each very different - and yet, there is that commonality of song lyrics being the source. I have quite a few stories similar to theirs that have happened since Mike died. Incredibly specific timing of specific songs that made me think - there has to be something to it. I know there is. And yet, if I tried to explain it to someone who hasn't lost someone close to them like we have, most of them might not really get it. I might get a nod and a sad smile but after I turned away I imagine they might shake their head or roll their eyes like, poor thing, she is a little nuts after Mike died, isn't she?
Another source of this commonality is the subject of dreams. Last night I dreamed of Mike and woke up knowing I was going to write about it, even though I'd been working on a very different post for this week. Imagine my surprise - but not really, I guess - to see that Cassie had written about dreams today too (I am writing this on Monday even though I post on Thursdays). Her post was about her frustration and sadness in not dreaming about Dave. And I see in the comments, others have the same frustration.
I have, on the other hand, dreamed of Mike quite a few times since he died. So have his daughters. A couple of our dreams were so incredibly powerful that perhaps no one outside our family circle might even believe us. But those happened quite soon after he died, and haven't happened again since. We feel very fortunate that we had those dreams, because not everyone does.
But I've also had maybe about a dozen nightmares about him since he died. Those dreams are terrible. I'd rather not dream of him at all instead, to be honest with you.
Last night though was yet another difficult, stressful dream about him. In this one, I knew he was out there somewhere, but I couldn't call him. In my mind I could see his old phone number, and I had my phone and was trying and trying to dial it but I just couldn't. The numbers on my phone were all moving around, turning upside down, sliding across the screen so I couldn't touch them. It was agony. I couldn't connect. I couldn't call him. I couldn't talk to him. And the dream seemed to go on and on like that, it wouldn't end.
When I finally woke up I thought, oh thank goodness it was just a dream, I can talk to him now. I actually sat up and looked around for him and then - wait a beat - remembered he was dead.
Yes - it is shockingly painful when that moment of truth settles in once again. But this time, today, I also felt strangely grateful for that momentary lapse I hadn't had in months. I laid back in bed, relishing the familiar feeling of my old reality. I had had a real, pure moment when I actually and truly believed he was still alive. It was perhaps one last glimpse into a world where he still existed.
Thanks to the workings of an overworked, confused brain, just for a moment, just for a beat...it felt like I had my Michael back.
I miss him.