I feel like I have covered this grief topic in writing at least 10,000 times since my husband’s death.
I also feel like no matter how many times I express it, there really is no way to ever properly express what this is.
This, being the loneliness and longing that comes at the end of the day, in that space where my husband’s life used to be.
It does not matter how wonderful or beautiful of a day I have had. It does not matter if I have just spent the entire day or hours being surrounded by family or friends who love me. It does not matter if I have just come back home from a day of proud accomplishments, mediocrity, or stunning beauty. Coming home to that empty apartment, and making the trip home alone to that empty apartment, is always always always the most heart-wrenching part of my day.
Yesterday I worked all day, and then spent almost 4 hours at a restaurant having dinner with and talking to my best childhood friend who Ive known since I was about 5 years old. Yes, 4 hours. We are known for closing down restaurants or being there for the “change of shift” in serving staff. We talk a lot. We understand each other. As a child-free not-by-choice infertile, she knows grief and loss. Even though our circumstances are very different, there are oddly quite a few similarities, and we understand one another. We listen to one another. In that space of being with her, I feel valued and very much like I am not alone in my pain, and not crazy for having it. And yet, even after such a beautiful and validating experience with a dear friend who “gets it”, there are still silent tears as I make the drive home. I always feel as if I am driving back to silence. Driving back to nothing. Driving back to the void – the echo – the tunnel of hollowness that now sits where my husband’s words once lived. Nobody will be calling me during my drive home to ask: “Are you on your way home now? Do you want me to make you some tea?” I won’t be getting a text that says: “Call me when you’re 5 minutes away and Ill come out to the parking garage so you don’t have to walk across it alone this late at night.” Nobody will be helping me carry in my heavy bags that I had from the day. Nobody, nobody, nobody. When I get home, there is a whole lot of nobody.
In addition to that knowledge of what I will be walking into, there is also the knowledge that the person I was just with does have their person to go home to. Sure, maybe he will be working late or not there immediately, but at some point, he will walk through the door and she will probably tell him about our time together. She will tell him that she had dinner with me and how we talked for hours and hopefully helped each other a little bit. Maybe they will watch some TV together or seperately, but with the knowledge and comfort that their person is just in the next room and home safe. Maybe they will talk or have snacks or be intimate, or just fall asleep and have a perfectly ordinary night. Every time I head home from somewhere, especially a large gathering, I think about that. As Im driving home alone or taking the subway or train, I think about my friends or family or whoever I was just with, and I picture their commutes home with one another. I picture my brother and his wife and their two kids, and the chaos of life with children. I picture my parents driving home from just having seen me, and talking with each other about mundane marriage things, or analyzing how Im doing 4 years after my loss, and saying to one another: “She seems better. I hope she is okay.” I picture all the people who have the honor of saying words to someone, and hearing their someone say words back. And every time I go home alone, and then sit home alone, I feel his absence the same. This part of missing him does not get easier. There are many other parts that have gotten much less harsh as time goes on, but this – this feels like a brand new pain each and every time.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am by myself in my apartment. That is what people don’t understand. I LOVE being alone. Sometimes I spend days upon days alone, on purpose, because I dont particularly feel like being with other humans for awhile. I lived alone in my own apartment for 4 years before Don moved in with me. I have no problem spending time alone. And it also has nothing to do with the fact that I happen to have a roommate in my current apartment. So, a lot of times when I go home at the end of the night, I am actually NOT physically alone. But none of that matters. All of that is insignificant. Thats the point. Whether it’s alone, roommate, ten roommates, or 7 cats and a dog – it is irrelevant. None of those things will ever replace or be the space where my husband lived. None of those things are the other half of my soul that my husband was. That he still is. It’s just incredibly difficult to come home and not have the other half of your soul there with you. To speak to your soul and not hear it speak back – every single day – I don’t know that there is a term or a word to ever properly describe what that feels like, and what it does to a person.
I don’t know how to explain it. But it hurts. It hurts all the time.
Especially, and certainly most loudly, at the end of the day.