My friend empathized, because he is a widower, so he understood exactly what I meant. I went on to say that even though I know, logically, that this is my life now, and that he is forever not here anymore, there are just days and weeks where "I don't want any of it. I just don't want it. It's not the life I asked for, it's not the life I signed up for, and I know I sound like a baby saying this, but I don't care. It's just so unfair, and I'm tired of it,and I'm tired FROM it. I feel like all I have done is sacrificed since his death, and what do I have to show for it? Nothing. Here I am, 5 years later, and I still can barely support myself. Even after giving up our apartment, getting roommates, selling our car, taking the bus, and working 2 and 3 jobs at a time sometimes. None of it seems to matter or move me forward."
"There are so many things we lose", he said.
"Yes. And every single time I grow exhausted or something in this life is just too damn hard to deal with, I go RIGHT back to that thought process of 'none of this would be happening if you weren't dead.' There are literally a hundred different ways I could complete that sentence ....
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be living in Flushing, Queens - a neighborhood I don't like at all, and don't feel I belong in at all.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be walking home late at night from the subway or bus with keys in my hand because I'm so terrified that Im going to be attacked.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to work more than one job just to get by.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to wake up in the middle of the night from one of my nightmares, and somehow get through it all alone.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be so familiar with what a panic attack feels like, or how frightening it is to feel massive anxiety and fear on a regular basis.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to look at my own brother with his wife and his house and his kids, and feel a ping of jealousy and intense sadness at the life we never got to have, staring me down in the eyes of his family.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to try and navigate the hellish and confusing waters of the dating world, nor would I have to try and figure out the intentions and emotions of people in the male species.
If you weren't dead, I would still have health insurance.
If you weren't dead, seeing happy couples or older couples who have been married for even one decade or longer, wouldn't feel like a knife through my heart, every single time.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't know what it's like to feel defeated, exhausted, an beaten down by life, just 10 minutes after waking up.
If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be living in fear of being alone forever, growing old alone, or dying alone. I would be feeling safe in the knowing that I have you, and you have me, and everything else will be okay."
I continued the conversation with my friend, fired up now at all the endless ways I could continue that sentence. "So, yeah, I could go on and on ... but you get the idea I think."
He laughed gently, amused by my ability to start out with the response of "nothing", and somehow turn it into a 30-minute monologue out of nowhere.
"So, nothing's wrong then?", he asked, smiling through the phone.
"Nope. Nothing's wrong. Except that he's still dead. "
And we both laughed, and sighed, and then lightly cried inside .....
because we understood.