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.
Things have changed so definitively during this time, but so subtlety as well, that I wonder, for a moment, what really feels different? If I could put myself back into the world I occupied the night before MIke suddenly died of a heart attack in his sleep and compared it to tonight, what would be the starkest change?
I can’t answer that question, other than he’s not here anymore. Because so many, many things have changed as a result.
All I know is, for the moment, I am still sitting on the old lanai I shared with Mike, my go-to place, listening to the neighbor’s crystalline-sounding wind chime pinging one lonely note into an otherwise still and quiet night.
Not even those pesky roosters are talking.
I gaze out over the horizon below me. On a clear night I would see the ocean, five miles below me from my spot high up on our volcanic mountain here in Kona, reflecting the vibrant moon. Tonight, the thick clouds only give away the moon, shining brightly from somewhere far above, by reflecting a dim, grey-blue light onto my table.
Part of me is excited about the new place. It’s different. It will signify the next new season in my life. There is ample space, and even a bigger, if dated, kitchen.
I will have my own office space. My own bathroom. I won’t have to walk outside and downstairs for the laundry. We have a beautiful yard where the dogs are welcome, room for my piano, and even a new couch on its way. It’s only up the block from here, so I will have the same, if not even more amazing, view. I can almost overlook the scourge of the wall-to-wall carpeting, where my dogs are really not welcome, if you get my meaning.
But then I wonder if being somewhere different will change anything in my grief journey. Will I be reminded of Mike less? Will I feel encouraged to take turns and make changes I might not have made if I stayed in the old house forever? What will change about me, what will feel even more starkly different from that last doomed night, a year from now?
Then I realize: it’s not like I have a choice. I have to leave this place. Wherever I go, whatever I choose, will be starkly different than what I had imagined five years ago.
And yet, on the whole, I can report that the majority of the time, I am doing well. I feel like I smile enough - genuinely, surprisingly - and have as positive an outlook as anyone might hope to have facing such things in middle age, with so much being left to the unknown. I reassure my dear widowed friends here, who are genuinely concerned about all of this for me, that I am ok. I feel the energy of having a new lease on life, literally, and am aware of the possibility that things may surprise me in a good way.
And yet I still have moments. We always will. These nights, when sleep is distant, and the rest of the world is dark and nearly silent…these are the thoughts that reverberate, a haunting echo through my soul.