Going Walter Mitty-ish...

These are the facts I’ve accepted recently:

Life without Chuck is, if I’m honest about it, painful and traumatizing.

In spite of the fact that I fully engage with people daily, involve myself in activities, and travel as a life-style, which means I’m continually in new situations and places, I don’t feel invested in this new life at all. My body is starving without Chuck’s touch. My emotions are also starving. There is no place for all of the love I have in me to go. Helpful people suggest being around my kids/grands, as if that is the same relationship and fills that absence. It doesn’t.

I’m still in love with my husband. In spite of the fact that he’s been dead for a little over 2 years. Still in love yet can’t remember what it was like to have him next to me, what his energy felt like.

I can’t envision my future. Don’t care to envision my future even if I could, because it means god knows how many years of living without him, missing him, having him not in my life.

All I know for sure in this new life is that Chuck loved me deeply, as I loved him, and I live on that. The love we shared, our lives together, was the most important relationship I had, and I reveled in it and cherished it.

There’s a list of things that I can list as facts. The sum of it all is that I’m so numb that it’s painful.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to live in my past. Kind of in a Walter Mitty way but not. I’m not going to project myself into dreams, as he did, where he’s the hero. No, I’m going to make a conscious decision to allow myself to live in my past. Consciously strive to remember specific moments with him. Which will be a task, because I can’t seem to remember much of anything and that’s particularly disturbing to me. So maybe this is a good thing for me to do, really. Maybe if I set myself to live in my past with him, I can begin to actually remember our times. The love, the romance, the passion, the cherishing, the kisses, the sex, the love-making, our slow dancing, his hand on my lower back...all of it.

I’m going to study pictures of our years together, from the time we married to right before he became ill with cancer. I won’t allow myself to look at those for some time; those times are remembered all too well. I’m going to immerse myself in our love story, the big and little things we did for and with each other, our traveling years... maybe I’ll even pretend that he’s still somewhere and that we’re only temporarily separated. Maybe if I can convince myself that I’ll see him again someday, this grief will dissipate at least a bit. Maybe in a weird way, this can be a healthy thing. Maybe I need to immerse myself in my past with him so that I can fucking remember my past with him, and thereby, find something that will help me move into my future.

God knows doing this can’t be any worse than what these last couple of years have been. Collage1.jpg

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  • commented 2015-07-08 17:59:34 -0700
    I actually think this is a great idea. Its a form of therapy, really. You have to walk through your past and break it down and feel the love from it in order to fully engage in any kind of present or future. I think this is good. Let us know if the memories start to come back to you. Id be curious.
  • commented 2015-07-08 11:11:29 -0700
    Alison, at 67, I still feel married to him and a strong need to hold onto our memories and not forget. From the outside, my life looks fine—staying active, seeing friends, trying new things, meeting new people, moving forward with the help of a grief counselor—rebuilding after 21 months. But it’s the long hours alone at home—thinking of the private us that no one else saw—when I’m flooded with pain and longing as I struggle to remember through the fog. After he died, the fog left me in a panic, feeling the special and simple moments of our life were slipping away—playing with my mind and convincing me our time together was nothing more than a dream. The panic prompted a three-month mission stretching long into the nights to capture, digitize, and caption every single photo, audio, video, paper, or object related to him. The project consumed me those first few months but also gave me purpose and direction when I felt lost and alone. Now his whole life—from childhood to death—is stored digitally by year on a single Android tablet. It’s the place I go when the pain is overwhelming and the panic reappears. I reach for the tablet, and our life together unfolds before me. Videos of him laughing on a sailing trip, him holding our newborn granddaughter, him hiking in the mountains with our dog before cancer robbed him of an active life—hearing him tell me how much he loved me. Now, every day, for a few moments, those digitized memories take me back to special moments of a life now gone and fill me with warmth, love, and the strength to go on. Hope you find comfort in your memories, too. For now, they’re all we have that touches our heart deeply.