Recently, I drove the familiar road to Mike’s house. I have completed this drive hundreds of times since he died; but, this time it hurt my heart - a lot. Maybe it is because on August 20th we should be celebrating our second wedding anniversary together. But, we won't be doing this. Mike died. There is no wedding anniversary for us. There is nothing for us to share anymore. Everything we experienced and everything we were is in the past.
Physically, Mike is gone. And, when you love someone who is dead you are left with a profound emptiness and aching that underlies everything in your life.
I know the road to Mike's house like the back of my hand. I can drive it without thinking. On this stretch of highway, my mind often drifts off to a better place in time. I carefully recall our life and I bring him back to life in my mind. So many memories of our life together replay in my mind as I drive past the relics of our past. And, as the missingness sets in, I find myself grabbing my collarbone. This is a thing I do when my grief is swallowing me alive. I wonder if this will ever end; and as I type this, I know the answer. It won’t.
Even if I recreate a new life. Even if I move away from here. Even if I fall in love again, my memories of “Mike” will find me. At certain moments, my memories will wash over me; and I will instinctively reach for my collarbone in an effort to soothe and steady myself. I will place my fingers there, just above my heart, because for the rest of my life I will be Mike’s Widow. Even if I make myself into all the other things I plan to be - a part of me with always be his widow. I realize I can’t escape this. It is what it is.
This isn’t meant to sound hopeless or sad. It is simply my reality. It is my life and there isn’t a way to pretty it up. And, mostly, “I’m fine” throughout the day. By looking at me now, no one would know I was utterly shattered just 2.9 years ago. But, if you look closely at my eyes you can see it. The traces of heartache are there. And, each of us who have outlived the person we love have this same look in our eyes. We lived through something we thought would kill us and you can see it in our eyes.