How many times have you thought back to your “day after”?
That day, after your spouse shuffled off their mortal coil and you had to face a whole new life on your own, is not one that’s easily forgotten (even with the passage of time). Every now and then, that first day will pop into my head. Sometimes it’s quite random, but sometimes there’s a trigger for it. This time, it could be because I’m writing this on the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) and it made me think about the person I lost and that first day facing life as a widowed person.
I remember being in a lucid dream. I was in bed and Mario came in the room and laid down and held my hand. It felt very real but also very comforting. I’m not sure how long that lasted, but I could soon feel consciousness coming over me. Shortly after, I was awake. It was February 11th, 2021. It was the day after Mario died.
It felt like waking from a nice dream into a nightmare. A mere 14 hours ago, I was holding Mario’s hand as he took his last breath and maybe he came back to hold mine to give me strength to face this day. It was a day of harsh realities. I didn’t want to believe this was all true, but it was. Honestly, coming up on 3 years, I still have those, “is this really real” moments like I did that first day. I can only assume that’s a natural thing that others also experience.
When I finally got out of bed that day, the house felt so quiet. I forced myself to eat some breakfast and feed the cats. They knew something was very wrong. I felt bad for them because they didn’t get to have a proper goodbye.
In some ways, I felt like I was in a weird auto pilot mode. There was also this nagging feeling in the back of my brain that I needed to stay busy. Looking back, it was probably some sort of coping mechanism kicking in. If I wasn’t busy, there would be more of that awful quiet and my brain would get lost in rumination.
That afternoon, I plugged in Mario’s old iPod, got a box of large garbage bags, and started going through his side of the closet. A dead guy had no use for clothes. Logical. Necessary. I always heard that disposing of your spouse’s mundane earthly things could be a challenge. So I literally tackled it as pretty much the very first thing I would do. Spoiler alert, it was not easy. Try as I might to get through that process without a cascade of tears, the cascade came because as I worked, each article of clothing placed in a bag brought a surge of memories.
“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.” (A quote from one of our mutual favorite movies, Blade Runner)
The auto-shuffle on the iPod provided the perfect soundtrack for a good old fashioned breakdown in the closet.
Mario had a lot of clothes and shoes. I filled up about 8 large, black bags. There were a few items that did not make it into the bags. A dead guy doesn’t need clothes, but his sentimental other half also couldn’t bear to part with a few things either.
I lost all track of time that day, which was something that would happen frequently in the days to come. Before I knew it, it was getting close to dusk. The only other thing I’d really done that day was feed the cats, but neglected to feed myself past breakfast. I honestly can’t recall now if I did eat dinner that day.
Day 1, February 11, 2021 A.M (After Mario).