Supporting Chuck as he died.
The hardest, most impossible, most unbearable thing I’ve ever done.
It was my job, as it was for all of us who walked with our loved one as they lay dying, to make it as easy as possible for Chuck. Or at least, that’s how I saw it.
Out of Love for him I talked to him about his imminent death. About what I’d do in the after. To reassure him that I’d be okay. I remember standing at the end of his bed, touching his foot gently because touching him anywhere put him in ungodly pain. Standing there, watching him as he returned my gaze, but barely, because so much of him was already gone to wherever one goes as they die. That place in between where we were to where he was. His eyes were just slightly open, and my voice was as strong as I could make it.
I know that you need to leave. It’s okay for you to go. And I know that I have to continue on and do what it is that I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life. Thank you for loving me so deeply. I love you. I’ll remember you forever.
While my heart shrieked don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me. I beg of you. I’ll do anything. I don’t want to live without you. Please stay.
I don’t pray. I’m not a believer. I have no religious faith, nor am I interested in most of what religion teaches.
What I wanted to do was curl up onto the bed where the man who was my heart and my breath lay dying, and collapse into him and wrap myself around him and let sobs wrack my body, with the futile hope that my strength might hold off the angel of death. Or maybe I could breathe my own breath into him and keep him alive.
What I did was beg god and the Universe to give me enough courage and strength not do to that to Chuck. I didn’t want to distract him from allowing his body and spirit to do what it needed to do. I couldn’t do that to him. Make me brave enough to let Chuck go.
Three weeks later I drove away from our rented condo in southern California, watching through the side view mirror as the mountains surrounding the valley faded into my past, along with the magic that was my life with Chuck.
I don’t know that I’ve survived Chuck’s death.
I know it certainly looks as if I did.
In these days of covid and riots and violence and fires, I feel as if I’m right back in the desperate days and hours following Chuck’s death.
Part of me thinks that I need to impart hope to those coming along behind me on this road of widowhood. Maybe I’m supposed to be chirpy and filled with encouragement and attestations of how wonderful life is and how I’ve conquered every little thing and I’m stronger and mightier and nicer and sweeter and oh, how much I’ve learned from this and I’ll never take life for granted again?
I’m not the person for that. I’ve always been very real about this shit storm of widowhood and what life is like in the after.
I’m just as sweet and nice and strong and determined yadda yadda yadda as I was when Chuck was alive.
Chuck’s death merely merely taught me that life can kill you even while you continue breathing and living and doing and creating.
It doesn’t hold anywhere near the beauty that it once did, though.
I’m really feeling life right now.
And I’m feeling Chuck’s absence so hard that it’s physical.
Even though I’m holding onto Love just as tightly. Desperately, even.
At this point, my fingernails are leaving claw marks.
What I do know, and I guess I can hold this out to those of you still fairly new to widowed life, is that there is always someone holding the guide ropes, above and below us, bringing me, and all of us, to safety.
And we all need to remember that~