Kelley Lynn is out of town this week and is not able to post her weekly Friday blog, so we went back to a post she wrote 5 years ago about the weight that comes with making sure our loved ones are remembered. Even five years later, we'll bet that many of you can relate to her words...
If you are widowed, and you are reading this, then you know that missing your person and the life you had together is as constant as breathing - it is a new fact in your new life that you didn't ask for, and it's just there, always and forever. The missing of what was never goes away.
But then, above and beyond that missing, is a whole other kind of missing that has nothing to do with missing having a partner or being part of a team or having intimacy or stability or love or family. No. The kind of missing that I am talking about today, is a very specific missing. It is specific to each of you, and totally different for each of you. It is the missing of the elements that made up the person we lost. The tiny and subtle things that made them who they are - the things that perhaps only you know, or the sides to them that only you saw, inside of that beautiful secret that was your relationship. Lately, I have found myself missing these types of things about my one-of-a-kind, never to be duplicated husband, and trying like hell to somehow recreate them in my mind or in my heart or memory. If I close my eyes just right and think about it just right and really focus and concentrate, maybe I can bring back that thing he used to do or those words he used to say. Maybe I can somehow feel them again. And even though this normally doesn't work for me, and I end up feeling nothing except frustration - I keep trying anyway.
But perhaps the only way to bring those pieces to life again, and keep them alive, is to talk about them and write about them and share them with other people. The problem though, is that the list of people I can share this with gets shorter and shorter as time goes on. Don didn't have much family. Both of his parents passed away before he did, and most of his remaining family can best be described as "dysfunctional." (and I'm being kind) He has many friends, and my family loved and loves him like a son, but all of those people have lives and families of their own, and it's still a bit weird of a thought to strike up a conversation with any of them about the strange Elvis-like crinkle in my husband's crooked smile, or the way he would chase me around the apartment slurping his cereal, because he knew how much I HATE cereal slurpers. These types of things are just a bit too personal to want to share with anyone, except for the people who lived in our home. Anotherwords - me, and my husband.
This is one of the many things that truly sucks about not having the chance to start a family with your person. This is one of the many things that is so unfair and hurtful, about being childless and widowed. I have nobody to look at and say: "Do you remember when Daddy did this?" Nobody is coming home and saying: "Mom, guess what? I saw a guy napping on the train today, and he was lying down with the newspaper over his face, the same way that Dad used to do!"
I remember being invited to have dinner at my fellow widow friend's house one week. She has two daughters, and when they sat down to eat dinner, the person they lost was there in the room. His presence was everywhere. In their choice of foods, in their words, in their memories, their stories, their laughter, their sharing of things that had happened. My heart was about to fall apart as I sat there, realizing that I don't have that, and that I will never have that. I don't have anyone to come home to and share a meal or cook a meal that reminds us of him, or to say: "Remember when?" with. When I am home, it is just me. Just me. No kids to share the grief or the love or the life with. No kids to be scared with or angry with or insane with, or feel alone and isolated with. No children to look at or watch or hear, and see fragments of my husband in.
Not only is this a very lonely feeling, but it also comes with great responsibility. It is up to me and me alone, as his wife, and as the sole person left on this earth that loved him to the degree that I loved him - to make damn sure that he is never forgotten. It is on my shoulders and mine alone, that his legacy live on. If I don't do it, there is literally nobody else who will. Sometimes it feels as if I need to shout it from rooftops that our love and our life actually did happen, that we did in fact exist. Because all of the evidence lies inside my heart. My mind. My soul. It's a lot to carry around. I do it with equal amounts terror, and pride.
And when I ask: "Do you remember?", the only person who could possibly answer that, is gone. They are gone. There is no sadder of a feeling than being the only one left who remembers.