In every store you visit the shelves are lined with colorful, foil wrapped chocolate bunnies. They stand neatly organized in the aisles, adorned with ribbons and bows. At first glance, these holiday treats catch your eye because they look shiny and decadent. But, things aren’t as they appear. We know the bunnies are hollow inside even though they look substantial. I am a lot like these chocolate Easter bunnies. I appear to have my life together. I look solid. But, the reality is that inside I feel empty because he died.
This may come off as slightly dramatic, but it is the truth. After 2.4 years, my life looks shiny and newly restored. Outwardly, things have remained stable and solid. In many ways I am a vision of widowed success. I returned to a good career, I still have the house, the car, and the kids. On the outside, the condition of my life looks good. Aside from Mike’s death, my life may even be enviable to some; but things are not as they appear. Like the aesthetically pleasing chocolate bunnies, I look to be well dressed and professionally presented; but, inside me there is something lacking. Inside of me, in my Soul, the landscape is sterile. I am hollow inside like the foil bunnies. On the inside of me there is ‘nothing’. Where there used to be unbridled joy there is now emptiness.
Now, most certainly, there is a dullness in my eyes that was not there before. There is an emptiness inside me that I don’t know how to fill. Before Mike died, I did not know that you could be swallowed alive by a sorrow that is born in the depths of your Soul. I ache for him and I am less engaged in my own life because of his death. Some moments, the intensity and rawness of my grief consumes me from the inside out. Thankfully, these gutting days are less frequent as time goes on.
Time has tamed the wildness of my grief. The edges of my shattered self are smoothing. My tears do not last as long anymore. My inconsolable sobbing has turned into quiet crying. And, now, my aching is somewhat refined – if that is even possible. With time, I am beginning to slowly digest the reality. Mike is dead. This is real.
Mike’s death altered me in ways I didn’t expect. Since he died, I feel like I participate in my life without enthusiasm. This is not acceptable to me. I want more. But, at this moment, I am not yet capable of living more fully. As I live without him, my heart is desperately trying to make sense of what my mind knows. This is my life now, but, after a few years at this widow thing, I still feel like I am without a clear direction. I’ve come a long way since the first months, but I am still searching for purpose and progress feels slow.
I am growing restless though I know I will find my footing – eventually. Without a doubt, I know that I have the stuff to make it through this “mess”. But, I am impatient. I want to breath in life again. I do not want to live with this endless emptiness forever. And, I know that it’s up to me to change this. The future is in my hands. I need to play the cards I was dealt. And, I’m telling you, I plan to play the hell out of what I’ve been given.
Despite feeling hollow and empty, I am starting to feel unsettled enought to action my thoughts. I have a loose plan about my future. And, I am aware that my plans may not unfold as I imagine or hope.
Mike’s death has taught me that, no matter what the future hold, I will be “okay”.
I will adapt.
I will survive.
And, I intend to do much more than that.
I plan to live fully and completely.
Now, when I close my eyes, I can picutre MY life.
And, even though I want to share my life with Mike, I am able to envision a life without him.
This is huge progress.
So, as I continue to live without him, filled with a knawing hollowness inside me, I will continue to rebuild my life and redefine my identity despite all this sadness. I am discovering who I am now – without him. And, this feels absolutely mediorce compared to who I was with him. Nonetheless, I have to admit, I do not altogether dislike who I am on my own. The future is uncertain for me, but it filled with potential. It can become whatever I want it to be.