Today has been a good day so far. I love waking up and feeling passion for whatever is going to happen next in my life. Like my daughter saying, “I have a Valentine’s Day card for Dada! Here it is!” As I help my daughter get ready for school, I take a deep breath and remind myself of one simple truth; getting Anisha ready and walking her to school in the sun and snow IS what life is all about! I love that I truly appreciate simple things more, but I still miss so many things about Natasha, such as her food.
I have taught English for over a decade, yet I still cannot put into words how much I miss Natasha bringing me a plate of food. I have slowly gotten used to being the only cook in the house, but I long for my wife’s food. I long for the physical and emotional nourishment of those morsels and the all important banter about the morsels. She was a foodie and now that she is gone, I have become a foodie too, how ironic. I wish I could make and share a meal with Natasha in that supportive way that lovers do. For both of us, sharing good food would uplift our spirits and make us feel incredibly powerful, but now, grief sometimes hinders me from cooking the simplest meal.
It is interesting how grief makes the easiest tasks so difficult. It has taken me 3 ½ years to to get our new apartment organized. I just recently gave away all of the baby toys and clothes and boy did it really feel good! This is the sort of baby care Natasha was good at even though she had post-partum depression the whole time she was a mother. Like a lot of women, Natasha loved buying and organizing her daughter’s clothes and toys. Getting rid of Anisha’s baby stuff feels like I am lessening my overall grief. Yet, I still wish so very dearly to see Natasha dressing and grooming our daughter. I know Anisha would have a lot more clothing and hair style options if my wife were still with us. I know I shouldn’t worry about such trivial parenting tasks like fashion. More experienced parents have told me, “Don’t worry about her clothing and hair, it won’t matter years from now. It will have no impact on her overall development. Years from now, you will be laughing about your anxiety.” I know deep in my bones that these words are true; however, I still would love to see her dressed up in her mother’s fashion sense. I wish I could offer my daughter more even though I know my wife would tell me that I am doing a great job as a widowed single parent.
My wife was a powerful cheerleader for me, but, as the two of us discussed, the only cheerleader that matters is the one inside of each one of us. In our relationship, the cheerleaders within our own chests needed to be bolstered by our love. Simply put, our love made us both much more confident. Luckily, today, I can still hear all of my wife’s kind words, and I try to remind myself of those words when life gets challenging. For most of my life, the cheerleader inside of my chest has been shy and quiet. But, as my therapists pointed out, grief has been transforming my meek cheerleader into a bombastic cheerleader. In other words, the positive side of grief for me is that it has made me incredibly confident. I just wish Natasha didn’t have to die for me to feel so confident. I wish she could see her confident lover now, even though during her last days I found myself looking forward to the end.
It is disturbing that I miss someone so much now, but when she was dying, I found myself looking forward to her death. The truth is, after years of clinical depression, post-partum depression, and cancer, I was relieved when the love of my life died. I feel this enormous guilt, even though I know it is not uncommon for caregivers to feel this way. Still, it is a strange feeling to look back and remember being relieved when my wife, the mother of my child, took her last breath. No more cancer bills, no more cancer pills, and no more calling ambulances for bouts of cancer-related pneumonia. I suddenly went from caring for two extremely vulnerable people, my wife and daughter, to just taking care of one.
Regardless of how hard it was to care for Natasha, most of the best times of my life were with her. Since I loved her so deeply, I took care of her with so much passion. The clinical depression, post-partum depression and cancer did not keep us from having moments of profound joy.