I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be feeling, now moving towards year 5 since Megan’s death. Shelby is a preteen (and it certainly shows), and moves ever so closer to wanting to spend time with her friends versus us. Her brother is married with a growing family of his own, with two sons that Megan never got to meet. One of our best friends was just approved to be listed for a lung transplant of her own, and herself has a son that’s a toddler.
I’m engaged, for crying out loud.
So, so much has changed in these 5 years, and it’s not just my weight. While life stagnated for awhile, just after her death, it began evolving quickly thereafter. That crushing, defeated feeling of the world coming to an end started to fade a bit. What seemed like rash decisions or actions in those months following her departure have morphed into memories that I can hang my hat on.
They’re memories that, carefully analyzed, draw a clear path to where I am today.
They also add confusion to grief.
I still grieve Megan. I’m sure I always will. The “sting” is largely gone though. Of course, triggers still appear from time to time, in movies, songs, or events in the world surrounding me, but for the most part, I can sit here and focus my thoughts on Megan’s death, and it doesn’t reduce me to tears. Shelby can hit milestones now, such as moving onto middle school or learning to swim, and my very first thought is not “Megan isn’t here to see it”.
That thought is there, mind you. It’s just not the first thought. I can be proud of Shelby as a father, rather than a widower. I still would like Megan to be present in everything that occurs in our lives, but I’ve got a very “it is what it is” outlook on all of those events.
I’m not even going to call it “stiff upper lipped”. I don’t have to choke down emotions, or consciously attempt to not think about her. Megan comes up in casual conversation all of the time. It might be about what we’re having for dinner tonight, and “Megan liked that” will just roll off the tongue before moving onto other discussion. There’s not “stop” to the conversation while I compose myself. There’s no second thought about Megan being dead. She’s a memory, just like any other, that I draw on to further a point or embellish a conversation.
But that’s just it. She’s not only a memory. She’s my late wife. She wasn’t just any person in my past, but rather, MY person. My world revolved around her for over a decade. 99% of all memories between 2002 and 2014 occured with her.
Then, the list of those memories stopped being added to. There was a final memory with Megan, and then, nothing. Even something as mundane as Shelby losing a tooth was no longer shared with her. I can be abstract, and say that she has been with us for everything that has occured in the past 1,500+ days. That is not a SHARED event though. It isn’t as if I can discuss something new with her or see her expression.
It also means that, as time goes on, fewer and fewer memories are shared with Megan, proportionally. Her very absence is where she is involved in life.
There is no resentment of that. There’s extremely minimal guilt, anger or sadness nowadays. I won’t ever say I’m happy she’s not there...that would be psychotic...but I guess it’s “OK” or “acceptable” to be proud or happy about an event in my life without considering that Megan is dead.
As these feelings have evolved over time, I find myself questioning them less. What was originally a question of “Am I grieving properly?” has been answered, mostly, with a response of “whatever”. I’ve largely stopped questioning it. I’ve realized that, wherever she may be, she simply wants us to live life how we want to live life, and not to worry so damned much about what she would think or say or do.