Six years ago my husband died in a tragic accident (is there any other kind really?). I woke up the next morning, and felt certain that I had been dreaming. With my eyes closed, I slid my hand across the bed to Phil's side, and felt the cold sheets where his warm body used to lie. I wasn't dreaming.
The pain of his absence was searing. There were so many days when I thought for SURE that the gut wrenching pain would kill me. In fact, to this day, I am still surprised that it didn't. I felt like a zombie that was bleeding internally, and dragging my blood soaked bandages as I wandered aimlessly through life. Attractive, yes?
Day by painful day I put one foot in front of the other. Many days were awful, others were worse. Getting out of bed was sometimes a Herculean effort, but other times getting into that empty bed at the end of the day took every ounce of strength I could muster. My life was full of these mind-bending contradictions. I wanted to be alone; I hated being alone. I ached to be around familiar friends, but their presence shone a spotlight on the hole left by Phil's death. I wanted everything in my life to go back to the way it was, and yet everything familiar was also torturous. Yes, no, move forward, run back, cry, laugh, cry some more...I felt like a spinning top with endless momentum. When would the pain stop, and who would I be when/if it finally did?
Maybe the hardest part of healing for me has been the fear of what would come after. After what? After I was done. After I was "better." After I reached the semi-dreaded state of acceptance. After I was done being widowed. What would happen then?
I can't tell you what will happen for you when you have lived through 2,213 days of widowhood, but I can tell you what I have learned through these past six years. First, I will never get over Phil's death. I am certain I will always think the fact that he lost his life was a terrible waste and that the world would have been better with him in it. Next, I now believe that my widowhood belongs to me in the same way that my motherhood, and sisterhood, and daughterhood, and friendhood does. Being widowed is part of my life story, and this painful chapter has colored the rest of my life in rich, deep colors. I have met some of my dearest friends while navigating the waters of grief, and I know we will be surfing together for life...no matter what lies ahead. Lastly, I have realized that life will always be delivering a new challenge, another test, a different circumstance to my doorstep. How I handle the package will determine what impact the unexpected bomb, or bouquet, has on the next chapter of my life. Thanks to my widowhood, I know I will survive.
And what will happen after? I (and you) will be okay.