No matter what else is happening on any given day or who I am with, Mike is never gone from my mind. I realize now, after 23 months, that he never will be. One never “gets over” the death of a beloved spouse. I think we just learn how to live with it. One way or another, we slog or float through our days, even though sometimes we don’t want to. And we are changed - some space deep within myself feels altered, warped perhaps, as a result of living through this experience and landing on the other side of the unimaginable. I will never be the same person again.
Before he died I never thought about death very much. I didn’t think about my own mortality - I didn’t think about the fact that my own days are numbered. I didn’t ponder life without Mike. It just never entered my brain. I truly, honestly did not think he was going to die…at least, not so soon. Forever seemed endless. But forever is gone now.
Now, I think about these things every day - every day, all day. I am conscious that I have a an end date; I am hyperaware of the decisions I make, and how I want to live each day. I am making plans and starting new ventures and friendships with this specifically in mind. Not that any of it is easy. It is challenging, unexpected, and strange. Even when I am laughing with friends - something I thought I’d never do again for a long time, mind you - I am still sensitive to the empty space beside me. I think I always will be.
The vision of him lying there that morning when I found him will always be there. It used to come with a feeling of sheer horror, and a trembling; a horrible ache and disbelief. Now, the image brings sadness of a different level - perhaps a more grim, resigned sadness that I will not share any more days with him. Sadness that he will not share any more days on this earth in this life he loved so much with me, his daughters, his grandchildren. Most of the shock and horror has worn off. Sometimes I feel guilty about that - but I’m also grateful. Grim is dusty and shadowy, but horror is just that…horrible.
I find I use the constant reminder he is gone that I must do something with the life I have left. I mourn the loss of the presence of the man I loved so deeply and grew so conformable with; the man who knew me so well, the man who adored me so much, the man with whom I shared so many irreplaceable moments, memories, beliefs, conversations, adventures…but I’m not done yet.
I know this now. It has taken this time, and will take much longer too. In fact I know I will always be a work in progress, as we all are. But I never thought about life that way before. When I look back to the days with Mike, I remember a feeling of eternity…as if time had stopped and I was simply where I wanted to be. Now, I find movement and change are stiffly potent motivators. I know nothing will be fixed anymore. Like surfing a wave - a monstrous, swirling thunderous and continuous wave that I must struggle to balance atop of, lest I get swallowed up.
I’m getting better at it. I have good days now. I have good friends and family and plans and I’m grateful for all of it…grateful in a way I might not have been before. But one thing for sure -forever is gone forever.