For the most part, at 3.8 years I am functioning. In public, most people who pass by me would not know that I am widowed and that I am grieving. I no longer need to wear sunglasses into the grocery store because most days I do not cry anymore. And, now when I do cry it is quiet and more controlled. It is fair to say that my crying can no longer be classified as bawling. Thankfully, my cries are no longer composed of the uncontrollable wails I used to unleash from within my shattered Soul. Of course, my eyes still tear up, but they are not permanently red and puffy. Also, all these years later, I no longer feel the uncontrollable urge to tell everyone that I am widowed. My widowhood is now just a thing that is a part of me. It is quieter now. It does not define me – I won’t give it that much space inside me. I can not give it that much power – but widowhood definitely has become part of my psyche. I’m both better and worse for it.
By most accounts, from the outside, it really seems like I have now adequately “recovered” from Mike’s sudden death. Nowadays, not everything has to do with him or his death. Or, so I thought…
The most accurate way to describe the state of my being is that if life is unfolding according to routine, I am “okayish”. I can now manage regular life once again. I can complete the tasks that are required of me with a similar amount of effort that was required pre-Mike’s death. These days, I have begun to reengage in living and I laugh and smile and I even have started to have fun again. But, as soon as something sort of significant goes wrong I am lost. Irrationally, I become filled with worry and anxiety. Since Mike died, I simply can’t cope with life’s disruptions and setbacks without feeling completely off kilter. Things that I used to master without a lot of difficulty cause me upset now. I am a lot more emotionally fragile than I’d like to admit and this scares me a lot.
His death has robbed me of my life partner. When Mike took his last breath, the life we planned was snuffed out. The life I thought I’d be living simply vanished. I had a charmed life and it is a hard thing to give up. When Mike was buried so were all our shared hopes and dreams. I have had to recreate a life from the ruins of the life I knew. I have become painfully aware that I am without my person.
I no longer have a spouse who champions me. I am without Mike’s friendship to steady me. His words of reassurance can no longer make me feel secure. And, even when I desperately need to, I can not hear his words of comfort. Now, I can only imagine what he’d say to me. When it comes right down to it, I feel abandoned and alone.
I can not feel his familiar hand holding mine – though I do imagine it. Sometimes, I tenderly put my hand out. I always hold my hand out palm up, and I wait. I know that I will not feel anything; but, still, I hope against hope. I want Mike to put his hand on mine. I want to feel his warmth and his fingers. But, I don’t. What I want is not possible. I know this. After a while, I fold my fingers closed. I quietly hold the nothingness that is now where his hand should be. And, I pretend. I hope that his hand is somehow holding mine with his invisible touch. This is a very, very hard way to live. I am sure you understand the gutting I am describing because I am sure that you have also performed this ritual of holding the nothingness that they have become.
Well, it has almost been four years since I felt his arms around me. Thankfully, I still know his touch by heart. I can close my eyes and I can feel it all. I can recreate the feeling of him holding me. I wonder if this will fade with time too? Who knows… What I do know, is that the last time I felt safe and secure was when I lay my head on his chest and drifted off to sleep. *Sigh. I haven’t slept soundly since he died and I don’t know if I ever will again.
This weekend some things didn’t go as planned. I am adequately handling the situation on my own. I really don’t need Mike’s help; and even if he were alive his help would not have been required, but it would have be appreciated. This weekend, Mike’s absence was deeply felt by me because, without him, there was no one to help me shoulder life’s burdens. Without Mike, there is no one in my life who is equally invested in the outcome of my trials and tribulations. As an adult, a spouse is one of the only people in the world who is affected by your happiness like it is their own. I am without a life partner. I am without a cheerleader. No one has my back the way he did. No one would give their life for me. No one cherishes my happiness more than their own anymore. I am no one’s priority any longer. I do not belong anywhere or to anyone. No one looks to me and thinks there is my Girl. Nope. That is all gone. I am alone and on my own and the events of the weekend pronounced this to me. *Sigh.
For me everything, the good and the bad is felt more intensely since he died. When something doesn’t go according to plan it sucks a little like it always did; but, then it starts to suck a little deeper because everything always circles back to my aloneness.
I feel abandoned by Mike. His death has found me alone. And, for whatever reason, I can’t just fixate on the cruddy things that naturally happen in an ordinary life. Nope, that’d be too easy. I complicate things. For me, when things don’t go right, everything begins to intertwine with his absence. Or more to the point, my aloneness. When life threw me a curveball this weekend I had to dig deep to find the strength to not lay down and surrender. With the help of my friends, I found my fight. I stood up when I wanted to lay down. Once again I proved that I am capable on my own. But, my lack of partnership feels like a heavy cloak. Simply put, Mike’s absence weighs me down. And, once again, despite the heaviness of grief, I picked myself up. I stood up and did what I had to do even though I am tired. Beyond tired really. Again, I did what I needed to do – on my own. I proved my capability to myself once again, but do I ever miss being someone’s person. I was strongest when I was part of a partnership. This weekend, I managed to gather my courage and fight back against the shit sandwich life served me, but I realized just how much more emotionally fragile I am because he isn’t here.