Lately, Mike feels so far away. It is very hard to properly describe, but I will give it a try. He has taken on the feel of a memory. Now, Mike feels like more of a memory than my person. I feel lousy admitting this. It sort of feels like he is dying all over again.
In my head, Mike feels like someone who lived once upon a time – in another lifetime. Writing this and committing these thoughts to paper feels unsettling to me. It is completely jarring. I dislike that the man I love has taken on the feel of a familiar character in my favorite book. Once upon a time, Mike was real. He was flesh and blood not so long ago. And, now it seems like he lived in another place and another time. And, really, I guess he did.
Today, it does not feel like it was in my lifetime that he shared his life with me. This is the stuff that fills my head and breaks my heart. This is the stuff that widowhood is made of. Dammit. There is no happy ending I can possibly write to any of this.
The man I love now feels like a memory.
Read that again.
And, now read it another time.
The man I love now feels like a memory…
He feels so far away.
He feels like a lifetime ago.
He does not feel real anymore.
He doesn’t feel real anymore because he is not.
He’s not real anymore…
He is not here to occupy space in the physical world. But, somehow I sense him. In my head and in my heart, it feels like he still exists somewhere outside of time and space. I continue to talk to him. Every day, I think of him; and, I continue to include him in my life as I live forward without him. For me, Mike is still real. Except, he is not.
He is not a man anymore.
He disappeared into nothing…
He is now the air I breathe.
He is the wind against my back.
He is the sunshine that warms me.
He is the stars that decorate the night sky.
He is the wine in my glass.
He is the flecks of light reflecting off the water.
He is the song softly playing on the radio.
He is the warm water in my bath.
He is the sound of the waves that soothes my soul.
He is everything, and yet he is nothing.
This is the heartbreak every widow lives with.
Mike is not able to hold me in his arms. He can not reach for my hand. Our fingers can not casually entwine as he tenderly rubs his thumb against mine. This act can only happen in my memory. Mike is no longer able to give me anything in the physical world. Nothing. Not one damn thing. I know this. And, I half-heartedly accept this. I am trying my best to live forward in a world that does not include Mike. And, for the most part, I am doing an okay job of this widow thing.
Living forward into my fourth year of widowhood, my grief feels different. My grief is well worn now. It’s softer and more “comfortable” – if that is even possible. With time, I am slowly learning to wear my grief well. My grief has begun to fit me better. It snuggly wraps around me like a second skin. It feels familiar to me. I am used to it; or, more accurately, it is the normal I have come to know.
My grief is swaddled around me as I head out the door each day; but, now, it doesn’t choke the life out of me like before. I’m not tripping over it anymore. With practice, I have learned to move gracefully with my grief. Most days, I manage to make it look easy. All of us widowed people do this.
We become accustom to our alternate lives. We may not like it, but we learn to adapt to what is. Most people around me do not even know my grief is there, unless they catch a glimpse of it in my eyes. Trust me, it is still here. It has not gone far away. And, I know now that it will never really go away. I know this and I accept this. Grief is my cross to bear.
In some capacity, my grief will always live inside me. Out of necessity, it has become a part of my psyche. It has been absorbed into me. And, this is okay. I really do not think there is any other way it can be. I am not saying that I am defined by my grief. I am not. I am much more than Mike’s widow. But, being Mike’s widow is part of my identity whether I like it or not.
Being widowed has shaped the woman I am becoming. Widowhood has influenced me in both positive and negative ways. Outliving Mike has lead to deep Soul growth. But, this growth has not been worth the loss. It is ridiculous to assume it could be. Nothing good will undo or make Mike’s death okay. I can not envision being at peace with his death just because time continues to pass. This is not my end game. I accept (but I do not like) that I may be unsettled about his death for the remainder of my life. It is what it is.
Outliving Mike has changed me in profound ways. I’ve learned that my grief is not something that need be fought. Rather, it must be felt to the depths of my Soul, then beyond that. This doesn’t mean I allow my grief to consume me. That is not my suggestion or intention. Instead, I am allowing myself to accept my grief while I steadily build around it day by day.
Others who are further along in their grief told me their grief changed. They told me there was hope for a better life. In the past, I wanted to believe them. I desperately wanted this for myself; but, I didn’t know how this would ever happen. I worried my grief would be exceptional. It was not.
Although not linear or sequential, my grief has evolved and changed like everything does in life. Those before me were right. Change comes. It is never far away if you trust the process and stay the course.