If You Werent Dead

The other day, a dear widower friend called me, and could immediately sense in my tone, that something was off. "What's wrong?", he said. "Nothing," I answered, not because I was trying to be vague, but more because I couldn't really identify a specific thing that was wrong. So he said: "Come on. I know you better than that. Something's wrong. What happened?" And then I launched into it. "It's nothing. Honestly. It's nothing, and it's everything. I said nothing because Im starting to bore myself with my own story after awhile. I'm like a broken record. You know what's wrong. It's the same damn thing that's always wrong. He's still dead."


My friend empathized, because he is a widower, so he understood exactly what I meant. I went on to say that even though I know, logically, that this is my life now, and that he is forever not here anymore, there are just days and weeks where "I don't want any of it. I just don't want it. It's not the life I asked for, it's not the life I signed up for, and I know I sound like a baby saying this, but I don't care. It's just so unfair, and I'm tired of it,and I'm tired FROM it. I feel like all I have done is sacrificed since his death, and what do I have to show for it? Nothing. Here I am, 5 years later, and I still can barely support myself. Even after giving up our apartment, getting roommates, selling our car, taking the bus, and working 2 and 3 jobs at a time sometimes. None of it seems to matter or move me forward."

"There are so many things we lose", he said.

"Yes. And every single time I grow exhausted or something in this life is just too damn hard to deal with, I go RIGHT back to that thought process of 'none of this would be happening if you weren't dead.' There are literally a hundred different ways I could complete that sentence ....

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be living in Flushing, Queens - a neighborhood I don't like at all, and don't feel I belong in at all.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be walking home late at night from the subway or bus with keys in my hand because I'm so terrified that Im going to be attacked.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to work more than one job just to get by.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to wake up in the middle of the night from one of my nightmares, and somehow get through it all alone.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be so familiar with what a panic attack feels like, or how frightening it is to feel massive anxiety and fear on a regular basis.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to look at my own brother with his wife and his house and his kids, and feel a ping of jealousy and intense sadness at the life we never got to have, staring me down in the eyes of his family.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't have to try and navigate the hellish and confusing waters of the dating world, nor would I have to try and figure out the intentions and emotions of people in the male species.

If you weren't dead, I would still have health insurance.

If you weren't dead, seeing happy couples or older couples who have been married for even one decade or longer, wouldn't feel like a knife through my heart, every single time.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't know what it's like to feel defeated, exhausted, an beaten down by life, just 10 minutes after waking up.

If you weren't dead, I wouldn't be living in fear of being alone forever, growing old alone, or dying alone. I would be feeling safe in the knowing that I have you, and you have me, and everything else will be okay."

I continued the conversation with my friend, fired up now at all the endless ways I could continue that sentence. "So, yeah, I could go on and on ... but you get the idea I think."

He laughed gently, amused by my ability to start out with the response of "nothing", and somehow turn it into a 30-minute monologue out of nowhere.

"So, nothing's wrong then?", he asked, smiling through the phone.

"Nope. Nothing's wrong. Except that he's still dead. "

And we both laughed, and sighed, and then lightly cried inside .....
because we understood.

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Nicki Sturrock
    commented 2016-08-31 11:07:08 -0700
    Resonated with me especially the first paragraph. because 8 weeks later he is still dead. I am lucky in the respect that I have no dependants and no financial worries. But I don’t feel lucky. I see people’s faces and they are like “that’s good then”. No, it’s not good. I still don’t have my rock, my soul mate. 7 years we had. Oh, such a short time they say. Yes, but that does not make my pain dissipate. Go back to work they say, occupy yourself. But I can’t even think and I go through day to day on automatic. The world feels alien to me now. When I sleep I have dreams of losing him, when I wake I feel the physical pain. Thank you for sharing. I do laugh, some times bitter, sometimes genuine. I know I will get there just a work in progress. Silly things like I don’t have enough washing to do a full load. I don’t wash the pillows on his side of the bed because they are still clean. When you go out with friends I come home alone. Sorry, there goes the broken record again 😘
  • Leslie In LittleRock
    commented 2016-08-29 21:43:19 -0700
    I’m been thinking of how would be the best way to sum of how I feel, more than four years after my husband suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed blood clot, leaving me as a 50 year old widow with 2 teen daughters.

    Today on the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, the character Sonny, whose husband was murdered this past summer said it in 4 words:

    “Will’s dead. I’m alone.”

    Even though it is a soap opera character, what he said states the way I feel.
  • candace pruitt
    commented 2016-08-27 07:37:36 -0700
    kelly, thank you so much for posting this. 5 years ago at this time we were traveling back and forth from MD to our new home in Cleveland where I was raised. I didnt realize this until I saw this post on Facebook. I couldnt understand the sudden tears, lack of motivation, and despair until I realized that 5 years have passed on what was going to be our Chapter Two portion of our lives. My heart aches with all the “If you werent dead…” thoughts, the realization that I am still broken; thatI cant talk about this with my sisters and brothers because I know I will only get a "You should be passed this by now or the family mantra of “suck it up Buttercup”. I am so grateful for finding this forum where everyone understands the depth of pain that you will never “get over”.
  • Mella Bee
    commented 2016-08-26 15:33:16 -0700
    Thank you for this. I lost my husband suddenly…it will be one year in a few weeks. He was 39…healthy and beautiful. He went to sleep and never woke up. I wake up each day feeling everything you wrote about and terrified that it has only been a year and that I have to keep enduring this pain. I am lost…and I just want him back. I want you to know that you help me with every post you write. You are a light.
  • Carol Johnston
    commented 2016-08-26 15:00:49 -0700
    Your words are so familiar, Kelley, because they live in my heart and soul as well, but you have such a talent for stringing them all together in the necessary, interesting way that they need to be in order to make sense to someone else. “He’s still dead.” So true, so damned, heartbreakingly, life-suckingly dead, and our lives will never be what they were before, and I too, get so sick of fighting it sometimes and this week is one of those times. 💔