What do I do with this 4-year mark?
This Friday will be 4 years since I leaned over and gently kissed the lips of my dead husband, after watching him suffocate.
After he died, I bathed him, with the aid of our 2 girls. Then we dressed him in his street clothes. I didn’t want his body going into the body bag by itself and I remembered that I had 2 very nice blankets in my car, so I sent the girls for them. We wrapped his body in those blankets and stitched them together with colorful twine. I remember gazing at his face for the last time right before I pulled the blanket over it.
Before they came into the room to take him away, I stepped outside to speak to them and tell them a little bit of who this man was, and that I was certain that they would handle his body with great respect.
I helped lift his body onto the gurney after they zipped him into the body bag.
A week later we went to witness his cremation and I opened the cardboard box in which his body reposed, and I covered him with colorful flowers.
And then I pressed the switch to open the doors of the crematorium so that his body could slide in. I watched the door close. And walked away a widow.
There is so much I don’t recall of that time, which isn’t unusual, I know. But it’s funny, isn’t it, really, because I tried every day in hospice to be so conscious and present and aware. And I was, as much as anyone could be who was in shock and anticipatory grief, with my heart shattering over and over again.
Saying goodbye to my precious husband….
I’ve been on the road alone now, for 4 years. And I’ve striven to be conscious and aware and present in every moment, but if you were to ask me where I was each year on this date since his death, I’d have to ask my kids, because it tasks my brain to remember.
The trauma of death is real, whether it was a sudden death or anticipated death.
In the end, we are left behind to figure this all out. Or not. I don’t know what it means to figure it out. Mostly I just exist in the moment. I think that’s a good thing, because it’s all we have, right? Unintentionally, I have become Buddhist…practicing the art of non-attachment, in that I don’t give a grand fuck about a whole lot of shit. With a good attitude, not a negative one. If it doesn’t serve me, it’s gone. Period.
This past week I had to go to urgent care again. The past almost year, it seems I’ve been continually sick with sinus/upper respiratory shit. The congestion builds up in my right ear and I lose my hearing. The P.A. that I saw really spent some time with me and I told her that I’m fully aware that my nutrition and exercise program is non-existent and I can’t work up energy or will to care, and this widowhood is doing a job on me. We spoke about the miles I’ve driven on my Odyssey of Love, and how I’ve pushed my boundaries and refused to isolate myself and how I write about Chuck and my grief and his death and my widowhood and reach out to other widow/ers along the way. And I’m so tired, I told her, so I’m going to go West to Arizona and settle down for a bit and try to get my shit together. And she just looked at me and replied that getting one’s shit together has a different definition for each person and what she thinks is that I need to ease up on myself. Big time. I’m doing okay for what this life is.
I think we widow/ers, grievers in general, really, spend an incredible amount of energy trying to move on, move forward, go on…call it what you want. We put pressure on ourselves to be somewhere where we aren’t, emotionally, for many reasons, but I think one of those reasons is that there is an awareness on our part that the world tires of us. We natter on about our person, or our grief, or the challenges of living without them. Hey, I get it. I’m sick of me, too. The thing is, I can’t get away from myself, and the fact is, all I think about, really, is my beloved husband and how unbearable all this is without him.
I write and I write and I write and I write about my life with Chuck and my life without him so that my heart doesn’t explode with yearning. This is me now. I don’t know if I will ever be any different than this. I don’t know if I’ll ever join in on fun and not end up exhausted from putting forth the energy it takes to be involved. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel peaceful again. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel joy again. I don’t know if there will ever come a time when I actively care about life again. I don’t know if I will ever not feel this weight on my body and my heart. I don’t know any of these things and it doesn’t concern me any longer that I don’t know these things and I don’t have the energy to defend any of these unknowings.
Honestly, I’m perfectly okay with retreating to my tiny little trailer, painted in Chuck’s Watchin’ Over Me pink, the cabinetry inside covered with pictures of me and Chuck through our years together, and writing on my laptop and working on my journals. Keeping to myself and remembering that I was once so loved by a man I loved equally in return.
I don’t like life since Chuck died and I know that isn’t politically correct to say, but it’s the truth.
In French, I’ve read, you don’t say I miss you. You say Tu me manques, which means you are missing from me.
You, my dearest, my most beloved husband, my knight, my hero, my warmth and my strength, my harbor, my always…
Chuck Dearing, as I approach these 4 years without you…
Tu me manques. Tu me manques. Tu me manques.