Another sleepless night. Eyes wide open, I finally get up.
I pace through the house, small as it is, investigating this or that I think I will or will not take to the new place, for the millionth time. Thinking about all the things I have already taken to the new place, for the millionth time. Our new place, my boyfriend’s and mine.
February will mark five years without Mike. I can hardly believe that. And here I am, the loss of the house finally imminent, the auction date a few weeks away, a new lease already signed.
This is it. There is no pretending Mike might still walk in the door any minute. After 16 years in this house, I’m leaving. We’re leaving, my dogs and me, and this guy who has been here for me for about four of these last five years. This guy who has made it possible for me to stay with my dogs, who has found a role in a season of my life I never saw coming…and yet has no real role in my grief.
Who loves me and supports me and yet may never truly understand what it is I have gone through; that strange and horrific grief path I continue to tread.
No one can. Our grief journeys are solo gigs. And he gets that, as a musician, I think.
Mike is everywhere, and nowhere. I feel him in my bones, like a part of my own body. He haunts my every waking hour. I never forget. It never slips my mind that my husband is dead. I can’t stop the memories that flood in. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. Shopping, celebrating a holiday, watching his birthday come and go, sorting through his old things, touching a spoon he used, looking out over the same view he loved.
He’s always there.
And yet he is not here. I can’t hear his voice reply to me. He can’t reach out and touch me. I can’t ride passenger in his truck. I can’t make plans with him, cook with him, or call for him on the phone. I can’t sit next to him on the couch. I can’t touch his lips.
It’s official. We signed the lease this week, my boyfriend and I, for the house we will occupy for the next year. I’ve decided to only think that far ahead, and it’s made it a little easier. Because it’s a huge transition, moving from the house I shared with my late husband for so many years.
It’s also not a huge transition. I’m only moving, literally, up the block. And we have plenty of time to make the move, since my current house will be available for a couple more months. I’m going to move a few things at a time and do the big move after I’m back in Kona from my visit back east with family for Christmas.
The big news is, we found a place to rent here in Kona that has agreed to the dogs. It’s only up the block, so moving should be relatively easy. It’s expensive…but thankfully my boyfriend is with us for all the support both emotional and financial that it will entail.
It has not come easy. It took weeks for the owner to come around to us (apparently, two dogs are better than a group of young single people or a family of 10). We had to endure a long, detailed financial application and background check. And the hardest, for me, has been the emotion of it all.
My stay at the house my beautiful late husband and I shared is coming to an end.
I will leave part of me behind here. My heart, or most of it, it feels like.
I can’t sleep. I worked the late shift again, my usual schedule these days at the restaurant, so I’m not too surprised. Trying to sleep before one in the morning these days is difficult, when I don’t get home til half past 10 at the earliest. One does need to downshift for a bit after work, regardless of the hours. But this time it’s like something is calling to me. I can’t downshift, as I usually can. My beautiful magnesium powder is not working its usual magic tonight. So I give up, and get up.
I come out to my lanai, that place I will miss the most about this house, that place Mike loved most too, and notice how bright the light is. Geez what is that, I wonder in my daze? It’s the moon, I realize, so full and luminous it lights up the sky and the ocean beneath, like a surrogate sun. Literally glaring at me, daring me to be awake and gazing upon it. I go back inside to get my distance glasses from my purse so I can really see it.
Like a freight train, time is bullying its way forward. Come February, which feels just around the corner, I will have been five years without Mike. I sit here in his chair on the lanai we shared in this house, looking down on the ocean view he loved so dearly, wondering how that is possible.
Because in this moment, and so many others, it feels like yesterday. The pain feels raw and real and the missing him hasn’t stopped. And yet I have been forced to continue to deal with life in this world all this time, without him.
Sometimes, you don’t make decisions. Sometimes, decisions are just made for you. Like that time my husband died. I definitely didn’t decide that. And as a result, a cascade of other decisions I didn’t make happened.
I just had no choice in the matter. All the things you do in life, day-to-day or long term, doing any of those things without the person you expected to be there is not a choice. And on top of that, I had to decide things I didn’t want to decide because he wasn’t here to shoulder the burden, chime in, or provide alternatives.
I’m just so tired.
Sitting here with all this week’s feelings, thoughts and words ping-ponging around my brain, that one just keeps rising to the top.
Grief is a heavy, heavy stone to drag around, and I’m tired. That sinister companion has changed so much, not just in my daily life but how I think about life altogether.
If you’ve been following the slow-motion event that is the foreclosure on my home here in Hawaii, there is an update. The commissioner who was appointed to handle the auction did a site inspection today. I am waiting to hear the dates for the two open houses she is required to hold, probably in November. Soon after that, auction will be scheduled and held. After it is confirmed that it was sold by the court…that’s it. We vacate.
Even though I knew it was coming, I still collapsed in tears today. This has been my home for 16 years…12 of them happy years with my husband. And I am grateful I’ve had nearly five more, and much of that time has been shared with my boyfriend…who is being extremely gracious, generous and supportive, by the way.
I’m back in Kona after a whirlwind trip across two very large ponds. Being that it is 11 hours time difference between Hawaii and the UK, I am still suffering the lag, but it’s getting better. It was well worth it, both for time with my boyfriend’s family, and refreshing the spirit during a time of looming change in my reality. So now back to the grind.
And back to a cold, hard reality as well. Hearing about the shooting in Las Vegas chilled me to the bone. In years past, when Mike was alive, we used to come together during moments like that, during the other horror shows we as humans have lived through during the years of our marriage, from 9/11 to Sandy Hook. We would talk about what we really thought happened…we would try and translate the news into some language we could comprehend. Really for me, having his wisdom, his soothing presence, his protection perhaps, made me so much less fearful, both for myself, and the world.