Mike is everywhere, and nowhere. I feel him in my bones, like a part of my own body. He haunts my every waking hour. I never forget. It never slips my mind that my husband is dead. I can’t stop the memories that flood in. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. Shopping, celebrating a holiday, watching his birthday come and go, sorting through his old things, touching a spoon he used, looking out over the same view he loved.
He’s always there.
And yet he is not here. I can’t hear his voice reply to me. He can’t reach out and touch me. I can’t ride passenger in his truck. I can’t make plans with him, cook with him, or call for him on the phone. I can’t sit next to him on the couch. I can’t touch his lips.
Inwardly, the self reflection never stops. My mind is always calculating how long it’s been. What he might have said about this, or that. That feeling of your heart tugging painfully at an old memory you didn’t ask to remember.
And even deeper, the philosophical turmoil of the soul. Pondering and wondering about life and death. What it all meant for him to have been here with me, and now not be here. What I learned from him. What I learned without him.
Outwardly, the reality of his empty space is stark. And yet my life has, somehow, managed to move forward without him. His daughters and I have found a way to survive, to carry his legacy with a kind of special joy only we really understand, to laugh about old memories, the way he was. We are scarred, yes. The pain is just beneath the surface, a surface so easily scratched away. But we have lives. We work, we love, we eat, cook, pray, walk, drive, shop and play.
These days, if you meet me, you wouldn’t know I was a widow. I don’t wear it on my sleeve like I did the first year. I smile, laugh and enjoy time with friends. I go to work. I study. I dance. I make plans.
Outwardly, even without Mike, I live. I take up space in the world.
Inwardly, I agonize. I make peace. Then I agonize again.
The ongoing dance with grief, the sorrowful partner, my eternal shadow.