Since you died I feel like I am masquerading in someone else's life. The likelihood of outliving you was always in the back of my mind, but it wasn't something that I prepared for because I naively thought we had "the rest of our lives" ahead of us. I honestly thought that we had at least twenty more years together. And, because I blindly believed this, I arrived to widowhood completely unsorted. For the first few months everything was raw and rough. I was unpracticed at being a widow, so I made homespun, amateur attempts at surviving. However, with time, my ability to live with grief has become more polished. Fifteen months later, I do less improvising throughout my day.
I am doing this 'widow thing' . And, from the outside looking in, things appear to be returning to 'normal'. But, those of us who live this life know full well that we can never return to 'normal' again. I don't say this looking for sympathy. I say it because it is the truth. You know this as well as me. It just is what it is. This is widowhood.
As much as I dislike it, living with Grief has become somewhat 'normal' to me. I don't remember what it feels like not to miss you. I don't recall living without emptiness inside me. I don't remember what 'normal' feels like anymore. I don't remember what it feels like to be an 'ordinary', 'regular' mid-aged woman. I am forever changed.
The death of your spouse permanently alters a person, and I am no exception. Yet, somehow, I am starting to become okay with the changes in me. Even still, I am not proficient living my changed life. Most of the time I feel like I am participating in a makeshift existence that was not thoroughly planned out. I did not rehearse for this; and, honestly, it shows.
Art: Loui Jover
Death is a part of life. We die because we live.
The concept is simple. It is understood by everyone. But, the mechanics behind surviving without someone you love are tedious and complicated. It is relatively simple to comprehend the facts. They. are. dead. But, to accept this is not easy. To live this reality - this - brings you to your knees.
It is overwhelming and utterly disorientating to remain alive when the person you love is dead. Most of us do not prepare ourselves for outliving the ones we love. Honestly, I know there is no way to "prepare" for death; but, looking back I wish I had put more forethought into it. Until death intimately affected me, I never seriously entertained the idea of living without him. So, when he died I was blindsided. I was lost with no sense of direction.
Everything felt surreal. It still does...
I have a lot going on these days. In the past year, things have speeded up for me. I am working on a new career, and further schooling to that end started this week, as the first course is ending. Working another job in the meantime. And looking at the inevitable change that will come when the house goes.
Amidst all of that are the quiet moments. Sitting on my lanai, doing all kinds of work on my iPad, suddenly it will come over me.
He’s not here.
Do I have to say how much I miss you? Wherever you are, if you can hear me, you must know this, because I say it all the time. Speaking into the ether, perhaps into a void, not knowing if it is received on your end, but always imagining it is, hoping it is.
I see signs from you. At least that is how I choose to interpret the birds that swoop over my path in certain moments, the grasshopper on my door or in my house that appears just when my heart is clenched from a painful memory of what I have lost. That particular song that comes on the radio at that exact right time, and the shooting star that streaks across the heavens at the exact moment I look up into the night sky, thinking of you.
It is the middle of May, now, and we are moving toward the anniversary of your death. Sunday, May 24th, is the day the police came to tell us they had found your son, dead, in his flat. I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday. It was a Saturday afternoon, and we had not long returned from our weekly shop. We were relaxing on the sofa, and watching a silly show. You put the show on pause to answer the doorbell. Our doorbell was set to the melody of "It's a Small World," an apt tune, for us.
This might sound kind of silly or stupid or not at all important in the grand scheme of things related to losing one's life partner to death - but just bear with me, if you don't mind. It's how I've been feeling lately, and I feel the need to get these thoughts out.
There are a lot of things that my husband and I had in common. A lot of things. We connected through music, and met through music, so music was our biggest connector. We went to blues clubs and jazz clubs and rock concerts together, and would sit around our apartment playing CD's for each other and introducing one another to a new sound or a new band we had heard. My husband loved tennis. He almost went semi-pro in his younger days, but his mother didn't support his dreams to play, so he ended up joining the Air Force instead.
Tonight is opening night of the theater show at Adelphi University that I have been directing and writing for the past month. I am unbelievably proud of this show, it is hilarious and even poignant in parts, and of course I am missing my husband like mad right now. I want him here for this. I want him to be standing there after the first show ends, and the second one, and the third and the fourth -with that proud and happy look on his face - that look that said: That's my wife, and she created this. I want to feel his arms wrap around me as I go out into the lobby area where people's friends and family wait to greet them after the show is done, and take the flowers in my hand that he got for me, and talk about the show all night long with him like we used to. I want to have my somebody, my person, waiting for me in that lobby like everybody else. I want all of that and more. Yes.Read more
I know I'm not actually a split personality. I haven't disassociated from my body. There is nothing really wrong with me because what I'm going through is normal. I know this.
This grief, though. Whoa.
My brain sometimes slips into my consciousness the suspicion that maybe I am a split personality. Or whatever word it is that would best describe this state of being, at least to my own self. Because I very clearly feel like two separate people as I move through this world of mine, this world without my husband.
Last week, some of you may have noticed that I did not write a post in here. I would like to aapologizefor my lack of blog posting one week ago Friday. However, the reason I could not post in here is quite unique and different - I couldn't post because I spent the entire overnight in an empty building, alone, at the college campus I work at, sleeping in the theatre office without a soul around me anywhere. And let me tell you, if anything will make you feel completely, totally, and pathetically alone - it's that.Read more
I reached a point in these last few days.
I need to stop looking (albeit unconsciously) for this sharp cutting edge of grief in my body to stop. I need to stop looking for that elusive something that will take it away. Cut it away as carefully as a surgeon's knife, leaving my body and heart as intact as it was for my 24 years with him. There wouldn't even be any scarring because that then,in those old days that seem like another century and time, was the real, whole, me.
But, of course, the only thing that will remove it is if my beloved husband returns, and we all know he ain't gonna do that. Which is unimaginable to me and probably always will be,but it's the ugly truth.
Today is 2 years since my beloved husband Chuck died.
I've always used the word died since he...died. Don't care at all for the other, gentler words. Not at all. I need the harsh words to remind me that he is indeed dead because there is a part of me, somewhere inside of me, a part I can't identify, that just doesn't believe that he's dead or that this isn't some huge cosmic joke being perpetrated upon me and someday he'll come walking in the door and we'll both be totally disbelieving and we'll hug and hug and hug some more and then we'll have wild and crazy sex and then, well, get back to our lives.