So it happened.
Yesterday happened, and Im still here. Still breathing. Still alive.
Yesterday was April 13th, exactly 4 years and 9 months since my husband’s sudden death. Why is this so significant? Because Don and I got to enjoy the honor of being husband and wife, for exactly 4 years and 9 months. Then, on an ordinary Wednesday much like the ordinary Wednesday yesterday, he left for work and never came home again. Yesterday marked the first day of many, that I am now a widow, longer than I was his wife. As of yesterday, he will have been dead for longer than I was married to him.
I don’t know what to do with that. I do know it feels big and heavy and important. And it hurts my heart. A lot. And I also know that on days like yesterday, I still feel “robbed” of having the opportunity to grow with and build a life with my husband. I think I will always feel robbed of that honor. The fact that it took us so long to find each other in the first place, only to have it taken away 3 months before our 5 year anniversary.
To know that our time together was so short, that things like owning homes and living dreams and having kids and being a mom and being a grandmother and retiring and having even one decade of marriage with my husband – those things will never be part of our story. To know that our time together was so short, that my widow hood will outlive it – it hurts. Its like the more time that goes by, the further away i feel from that life, our life. Pieces of it begin to disappear on me, and then I long to get them back.
But I cant get them back. Not really. Not in the way I want.
But yesterday happened, and now it’s today, and here I am in that place of officially being widowed longer than married.
How does it feel?
Like a boulder just landed on my head and chest, and it’s sitting on top of me, making it hard to breathe.
This may seem like an over-dramatic description to those who don’t understand this road, but trust me, it isn’t. That is honestly how it feels. All day yesterday, and still today, I felt like I couldn’t get a breath out, like something huge was lying there weighing on me, and I couldn’t get it to move. I felt feverish and dizzy and completely unfocused. My eyes hurt and my muscles hurt, even my teeth hurt. The grief and the newness of this awful milestone sat inside me everywhere. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt.
So I let it hurt. I sat in my bed and let the pain just wash over me, because what else can you do really? And other, outside things were going on yesterday that only further compelled this pain, that only made that feeling even more heavy. Because grief triggers more grief, and loss brings back more loss. So there I was, me and all that loss, sitting in my bed of emotions, figuratively and literally. And now here I am, still sitting with it, letting it live there, and slowly trying to adjust to this latest shift in the process of life after death.
Nobody said this shit was easy.
But nobody ever really tells you just how crushingly impossible it can be, over and over and over.
I guess they don’t know, until they know.
So far, this has been a year of unrelentingly varied emotions. My heart has gone from soaring joy to intense sobbing within hours – from the possibility of dreams come true to the realization that perhaps Im not going to get my heart’s desire after all. And from all of that to a final destination of somewhere in the middle – a place of neutral and confusion, where Im not sure what is coming next, but tired of fighting that impulse to find out, that impulse to control everything. Finally, my heart seems to land in a subtle place of submission to the idea that I have no control over some things, and as my dear friend Michele keeps reminding me, that I must trust in the outcome. I will keep trying.
I’m living in a cluster of emotions lately, more so than ever before, it seems.
I’m tired. I’m scared. I’m hesitantly excited.
Nothing much to do except just feel all of it.
Nothing much to do but just walk on with the tides.
Grief is an ocean.
Then swim again.
Or, for as long as you need to,
let your body submit.
Just ride the waves.