One of the first big milestones of life without Suzanne has come to pass. Our youngest daughter has finished college and has basically graduated (she has fulfilled all of her requirements, but because of CoVID-19 the ceremony will now not take place until December). She arrives back at my home from England today after finishing last month.
Over many months, and for much more than a year, I have struggled to find true “inner peace”. What does that truly mean to me? It means finding a respite from thought, from fear, from the dull nagging ache of grief which—although it started all consuming—still holds a firm place in my heart, alongside my love for Suzanne.
Why would I seek this world of inner peace? So for a moment I can forget about the grief.
I want you to know a few things. After Suzanne dies, you will feel like there is little potential of anything ever making your life any better. Did you know that you will be scared, hurting, very much alone (even surrounded by friends and family), completely lost, and heartbroken? Please know that although you could potentially just curl up in a ball and die from that heartbreak, you won’t.
Potential is an interesting word. It means, “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.” When Suzanne dies, you will feel like there really is no future to develop into.
When that time comes, all you will want to ask yourself is, “What’s the point?” I mean, there won’t be a single thing that truly appeals to you as having any real potential for your future.
I wrote about unconditional love and gratitude some weeks ago, so you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about these things again. Well, I’m not writing specifically about those same topics as I shared then. Instead, I want to share about these three things together: dreams, love and gratitude.
What do I mean? To me, these things are inseparable.
My life’s dreams always included some form of love and gratitude. Those dreams have always been about true love and what it means to me. But my dreams were also my hopes for a future. They were what I thought I was meant to do.
Over the last week, I have been hit by several large waves of grief. Quite frankly, it sucks. It has been a long time since I have felt like this.
First, I want to talk about triggers and what I think kicked it off for me, so starting with a bit of a rant here. While much of the time, I am and remain hopeful about my life and about us as a society, the triggers that drove me to feel the way I did last weekend were simply signals to me that things are not always going to work the way I hope. That there will be times when I will know bitterness and disappointment. I will feel like I let myself down (and others).
But the key thing is, I know I can do better and even if it’s a matter of taking a tiny baby step forward and seeing the positivity and being grateful for the tiniest of successes, then that is a start. Will I always be able to overcome these bouts of grief? To quote Brian Wilson, “God Only Knows. And God only knows what I will be without” Suzanne…
This morning, I had a “break down.”
What does that actually, really mean? Did I truly break down? Did I break and now need fixing? Or, did I really just lay on the carpeted floor of my office and ugly cry for around 10-minutes vacillating between feeling sorry for myself, scolding myself for it and then trying to make myself feel better (by saying it was “okay to not be okay”)?
In recent weeks, as I have continued to shelter in place in my house (with four fur kids and no one else to keep me company), I have had a lot of time to think about so many things. What is it that causes me to feel so stuck? Why do I wait until the last possible minute to write these blog posts every week, knowing that I have a deadline (for the posts I publish to other websites in addition to my own)?
It’s simple. I recently stopped feeling grateful.
This week, I spent a couple of mornings outside in my yard using a weed eater to knock down some of the weeds that have been growing rapidly after lots of rain here in San Diego County over the last few weeks. Weed eating is hard work. Not that I am afraid or don’t like to do hard work, but it is very tiring.
What struck me is that a couple of weeks ago, I had already started to pull weeds in the yard by hand. I have never liked to pull weeds, especially by hand. In that moment, I remembered how many times Suzanne used to plead and negotiate with me to do any kind of yard work when we owned property together previously.
On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, I woke up at 3:49 AM to my phone vibrating. It was a call from my middle daughter, Laura. It was every parent’s nightmare. As I answered, awakened from a deep sleep I had only fallen into three hours earlier (because as I came to bed I discovered a roof leak coming through the ceiling right outside my master bedroom), I could hear crying. It was my oldest daughter, Rachel, crying.
My awakening was the rationalization that Suzanne was truly gone. It didn’t actually take very long after she died. In fact, I woke up, bolt upright, in the middle of the night around a month after she died and had that sudden overwhelm of emotion and knowing that she was never, ever coming back.
It was in that moment that I realized that she was truly gone. She hadn’t just “slipped into the next room” or “gone away and would be right back.”
No. I was fully conscious of the fact that she had died.
Every morning, I wake in an empty bed. I know. Lots of single people wake up in an empty bed every morning. But I am not single by choice. Still, waking up alone is somewhat of a choice, because there could always be someone else in my bed; but it is nonetheless a choice (regardless if it’s not one I have not made deliberately). Every night, I lay down to sleep and think about Suzanne. And I still miss her, terribly.
Anxiety always seemed to provide a convenient excuse to not get involved or do something. It was never a problem when we had fun things to do… But something serious? That was another story. One or all of them was always getting anxious when something serious was taking place…
In all my life (I’m inching closer to 52 years old now), I had never experienced anxiety. In fact, I never really felt like I had any mental health issues. That was until 2019.