Triggered

The other day I went into Sports Authority looking for something - it’s not a store I need to go to very often but it was one of Mike’s favorites. He was so excited when we heard a big sports store was coming to our little island town all those years ago. As I was walking around I was hit with a flood of memories of being in there with him. I was totally not prepared for it. I was so focused on the task at hand and crossing my errands off my list.

 

It was so palpable it almost seemed like he was walking beside me; I could feel the energy of him wafting down over me as I walked in. And then nearly every single aisle triggered a different memory. Oh remember that time he was looking for archery targets…and how he loved to sort through all the gadgets in the camping equipment…how he spent so long looking for the right tape to wrap his hands…how we went shopping for rollerblades together, and searched for the perfect pair of walking shoes that wouldn’t hurt his feet…in this aisle I remember finding him that shirt with the breathable fabric…how I came to find a safe to store some of his things after he died…

 

It just went on and on. By the end of my walk around the place my pace quickened. I had to get out of there. It was just too painful, and I walked to my car with tears in my eyes.

 

I caught a glimpse of myself in the window as I walked out and thought…there she is, the widow, the person shopping alone, the one he left behind. 

 

There was no happy husband walking beside me with his new toys.

 

Sometimes there is just no warning when those triggers will hit, and it reminds me how damaged I feel. The wound feels so raw…will it always be? Will I spend every day for the rest of my life haunted by that day he died, finding his body, sitting at the dining room table with the police officer in a cloud of shock so great I couldn’t cry or think or speak…and constantly reminded of all the memories of a life we shared?

 

It still seems so unreal. That it is impossible it could have happened, and that almost two and a half years have passed since that terrible day. My brain still cannot quite wrap itself around the reality that he is truly gone forever and yet my life has had to go on.

 

I do work hard to have a life and act as “normal” as I can out there. And I’ve made some good strides since he died. But sometimes I feel like I’m just really bad at it all without him. I’m just damaged goods…easily triggered…fragile. I texted my widowed friend Margaret about that the other day…we wondered together whether the best years of our lives are behind us. Could that really be true? Is the pain of missing them, the pain of all the memories of a lost life, always going to cloud our future days?

 

People who have not experienced this type of loss cannot understand the constant torment. We are seen participating in the world, going to work, running errands, having relationships, even laughing over a glass of wine, and since we’re not sobbing all over the place all the time they assume we’re “better”. But we are not. We never really will be.

 

I have things to look forward to. I’ve made a point of that. My musician and I are leaving for our trip to England in two weeks. I’ve been making a list of castles I want to see, and I know he is really needing a break himself and can hardly wait to relax in a pub far away from it all with a really good ale. Then in September I will travel to the mainland for a convention and family visits. We are even trying to plan a kind of family reunion for Christmas, something I dearly wished we’d done when Mike was still alive.

 

But throughout it all…I miss him. I just miss him. So much.

 


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  • commented 2015-08-04 14:16:02 -0700
    My husband lost his company in 2013 and I was a bread winner in the house. While I was at work, he would become my ‘housewife’. He was so good at it!!! He became a grocery store fiend because he could shop very fast and very cheap! We left VA in 2014 and when we moved to TX, he worked from home and I was training clients so we would spend a lot of time together and oddly enough, grocery shopping and errands became our quality time together. You know what they say, if you love someone and you love spending time with that person, no matter what you do, it is FUN! And this is exactly how it was! It was a lot of fun to go grocery shopping: we would ‘argue’ in a loving way that he is buying stuff we don’t need – he would say ‘I am stocking up” and boy, did he stock up! I would want thing that were overpriced because I had a whim and craving so we would argue and bickering and laugh and it was so wonderful! I even had a dream about it last week, the first one about Toby since he died on 4/10/15.
    You can imagine, well, you don’t have to, because you live it, what a nightmare a simple trip to a grocery store is! I pass basket with 50% off or Manager’s Special shelf and I burst into tears!!! Then I open the freezer and I see all the meat he stocked up so we had enough to eat when the paycheck was a little smaller!!! I feel your pain and I am so sorry we have to go through it!!
  • commented 2015-07-30 22:26:22 -0700
    Hi Jane – thanks for writing. I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard to abide the reality without them, but I’m glad you went to Camp Widow. It’s a wonderful organization. Blessings to you.
  • commented 2015-07-30 19:13:03 -0700
    Stephanie- you have captured my feelings perfectly. I can totally relate to everything you have said. My trigger last week was traveling to San Diego for Camp Widow. I was a first time camper & I am so glad I went but San Diego is such a part of the story of me & my husband and I wasn’t fully prepared for the overall impact it would have on me. So between camp crash & the location trigger I am struggling this week to accept the reality of his death 7 months ago & my new journey without my partner. Thank you for writing this blog!
  • commented 2015-07-30 15:36:56 -0700
    Tricia – I guess many aspects of this grief are a common and shared experience. It is nice to at least have this forum to do so…I look forward to my trip to (I will pack my umbrella and rain jacket!) and look forward to meeting you!

    Christine – the Circle of Remembrance is a Kona Hospice event usually in December. I don’t know their exact date yet but if you come please get in touch with me, we could go together.

    Robin – I sure relate. Minute by minute, no matter how long it’s been…hugs to you.

    Stephen – what a beautiful way of seeing the triggers. And yes, though there were days with such pain I wondered whether I would even make it, I am glad I loved him. Thank you.
  • commented 2015-07-30 14:36:36 -0700
    I always came to see triggers as landmines carefully laid by two loving people laying dormant till struck by the one who lives on. To hit a mine you laid yourself is just so wrong. Stephanie even though it hurts and you miss him so much, if you are anything like me, I’m betting you’d rather have the pain than never to have loved him.

    “Risk of loss..” M Scott Peck
  • commented 2015-07-30 13:54:48 -0700
    Your blog hit home to me, I lost my husband in September. One of the last stores we went to together was a 99 cent store. I cannot go into that store right now. Just driving brings up memories of us walking around that store, goofing around. I agree it is so strange how these moments can just pop up, you never know where you are going to be when a memory comes and I see people staring at me going why is this person crying in the supermarket….I loved your 2nd to last paragraph, you are right just because we go to work, are out and about everyone thinks she is doing so good she is coping, they don’t see me behind closed doors crying my eyes out for days….Such a minute by minute struggle…
  • commented 2015-07-30 08:07:59 -0700
    Stephanie like you I walk down an aisle and feel yes he would like this but he’s not here. There are so many triggers. Yes because I am doing and enjoying things others feel I am better. But I don’t want to share with them how I really feel inside.

    Next month I will be going to Hawaii by myself for a few months. And I know friends and family think I am healed and moved on. But how I wish he was still alive. Yes I will enjoy my time away but always have him in my heart.

    You posted earlier about the Circle of Remembrance I hope to attend if possible during my stay.
  • commented 2015-07-30 01:49:41 -0700
    Yes. We do seem to mirror each other in our grief path, don’t we? For me it was walking into an Aldi, last week, the first time I had been in there since he died. It had me in floods of tears. We shopped there often, and he loved that store. I pictured us, arguing over which vegetables to buy, him searching through the aisles for a good sale, always coming out of there with much more than we intended. Oh how I miss him. This loss has changed me forever. And the grief is always there—any little thing can uproot it and bring it to the surface, with no warning, and no way to prepare. Thinking of you. I am sorry our England weather has not been great this summer. But they say August is supposed to warm up. Fingers crossed. Look forward to meeting up when you come. xx

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