In about six weeks Mike will have been dead for four years. Wow. That seems like a fairly long time; and, at the same time, it feels like he was alive just moments ago. Death does strange things to time for those of us who are left behind. It is as though our clocks forever beat out of time after they die. I get lost in my thoughts a lot and time just slips away. Since he died, the hours have turned into days and days into months and the months into years. Time has not missed a beat. It is just Mike’s heart that did. Time goes on and on; and, all the while, he is gone from here.
Life goes on and so do I; but, Mike does not, at least not here. Maybe he is suspended elsewhere in time – maybe he exists somewhere in another time and space. Who knows. All that I know is that I feel untethered without him and I don’t think this will ever change. Although I feel largely disconnected from my life, I feel that I am becoming used to my life without him – it is what I have come to know. The things of widowhood that used to feel profound and foreign to me just feel normal when they land with me now. Mike’s absence doesn’t jostle me the way it used to. Still, the missingness and aloneness is ever present, but I hardly remember it being any other way now. I do not recall what it feels like to be a normal middle aged woman. In fact, an accurate and alternate way to describe my sentiments is that I feel like an outlier.
As an outlier, I exist differently than those around me. I have been forced to live outside the established comfort area society has created for women my age. I breathe the same air as other people, but it doesn’t fill my lungs in the same way. I see the same world they see, but through my eyes the colors are not as vibrant as the ones they view. My tired eyes do not clearly and neatly outline the shapes of things. Things for me are out of focus. There is always a blurry edge to everything in my field of vision. I listen to the same conversations others hear, but for me the sound is muffled and somewhat muted. For me, the volume is purposefully turned down low so that I can hear my own thoughts. My senses do not take in the world the same way. I am different because I survived his death.
The ordinary things and ideas that fill the lives of most people do not interest me anymore. The truth is, that nothing interests me the way it used to… In order to survive Mike’s death, I was forced to turn down the volume on my own life. To survive, I had to scale things back to the basics. In the early months following his death I had to relearn to breathe and sleep and eat. Then, I had to learn to reengage in conversation and I had to reassume my role as mom and teacher. Re-integrating back into life was challenging to say the least. For many years, it was incredibly difficult to do much more than what was minimally required of me. Now, at almost four years I can mostly manage life again. I don’t need to keep my volume on low so that I can concentrate on surviving anymore. I have figured survival out. Now, I am working on thriving. It is only recently that I have entertained the idea of turning the volume up. It is time. It is past time actually. Now, I need to crank up the sound of life again. I need to march to my own beat. I need to see in bold color again. I have grown tired of viewing only muted shades of grey. Finally, some light has crept back into my life. In this dim, warm light I can see the end of the tunnel. I am quietly bursting inside, I feel it, I know for certain that somehow I am going to be okay. And, guess what, you will be too.
From one Outlier to another,