It’s been 7 shorts weeks since I lost my Partner of 4 yrs. – Clayton, or as my family calls him “Tin”. Right now I am sitting, ironically, at the Atlanta airport on a layover to go home to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. Tin and I met in Atlanta and left the city to move to the beach, get married and make a life. Everyone has been saying “Great! You get to see your family!” “You need a break!” “Have a great vacation!” They are right that I do need a break, but as I type these words I am deeply terrified. This visit will be a hurricane of emotional tests and trials.
Last year I lost my father at the end of this very month. I haven’t been home since. Shortly after, Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My mother was the only family member who could come down when Tin passed so I am about to walk into a tidal wave of in-person condolences that normally happen much sooner for others. Not having seen anyone else, the weak scars of seven weeks healing will undoubtedly be torn open. I feel like Dante beginning his journey through the Inferno. This plane is a ride on the boat crossing the river of the damned. I see the other side and along the banks are demons whispering dreaded questions that people ask to show support only to be used by my demons as worded weapons. Dante’s Inferno is my favorite book. I guess knowing that Dante eventually leaves Inferno provides me with a bit of hope that someday I too may reach Paradiso.
I had to consciously choose to go up three days before the wedding so I could get the “I’m so very sorrys” over before the wedding but there will be people I won’t get to see before hand. I’m preparing myself for the words “How are you?” “Are you angry, because it’s ok to be angry?” “Have you moved on?” The only answer I have:
I am utterly heartbroken and there is no other way to explain it.Read more
If I'm being 100% honest, which I always am in my writing about loss, there are actually two of me. Version One of me was born on September 26, 1971, and she died on July 13, 2011. Version Two of me was born on the same day, within seconds even, of version one's tragic death. Version One never saw it coming. A massive heart-attack took her husband away forever, and in that same instant, Version One of me ceased to exist. A new me was born, and, like an infant, I had to start life all over again.
Everything was different. Every. single. thing. The world smelled and looked and felt different. Inhaling and exhaling had an unfamiliar, labored feeling to it. Speaking a sentence felt like a chore, and I wasn't sure what words to use or where they were coming from. When my husband's heart stopped beating, my new one started it's frightening and insecure rhythm. From that day forward, it would be up to me to figure out this new life without Don, and this new version of myself. Yes, there are still pieces of the old me that remain inside the new me - things that are part of the core of who I am. But even those pieces of me changed - some drastically, and some slightly. But they changed. They had to.
Now, just one week away from being 4 years into this new life, I am still taking baby steps everyday, still navigating the terrain to find my way through the thick and humid mud. I'm getting there, but I probably won't ever really arrive. The death of a spouse or partner literally affects every single part of your life. It does. There is no part of your life that this loss does not touch, from finances to jobs to friendships to living situations to parenting (if you have kids) to dreams of parenting (if you didnt get to have kids) to what you eat to how you shop to what kind of health insurance you have (or the fact that you lose it because you were on your husband's plan and now he's dead) to where you go on a typical Friday night - on and on and on. In this way, the death of a spouse is very different than other kinds of death. It leaves no stone un-turned. Every part of your life is now changed, and you are left starting over, alone, in the middle of a field, standing on a landmine, with nothing but endless terror and a blank canvas. And you don't even know how to paint.Read more
That means my anniversary run…
The 4th marks 4 years since our wedding day.
The 11th marks 6 years since we met
The 14th marks 3 years since Ian died.
Come the 18th, he’ll have been gone loner than I knew him.Read more
.... is different from moving on.
Moving on implies forgetting what is past.
Moving forward is more difficult. It involves carrying the past with you while you walk forward one step at a time. Never forgetting, but continuing to breathe and live.
Some days I can accomplish this.
Some days I can't.
Some days the past feels too heavy to carry with me.
But I'm getting there.Read more
There are lots of fun observations to be made about the picture above...let's not go there ;) What I love about this picture is that it reminds me of a great day on a great vacation with a great friend. I think I've said before that I sometimes have to remind myself of all the good things and make a list. It's always a long list of good things, and in the past 4 years that list has always included Michele. Yesterday was the anniversary of Michele's husband Phil's death - his "deathiversary" as we choose to call it.Read more