Mike and Sarah share Sunday posts, as they are two widows who are in a new relationship together.
Today’s post is from Sarah:
The other week, our Tuesday writer shared in her post about feeling “repeatedly shocked” by where she finds herself now. That “the remembering-forgetting-remembering-forgetting lurches are astounding.” Those words felt so accurate. I have often told people over the years that the day that Drew died, I felt like I was plucked out of one life and dropped into another. It felt like some giant grabbed me, and suddenly moved me into some parallel earth where things like grocery stores and malls and people all seemed the same, but my life wasn’t there… and I was left with no choice but to start figuring out my life from there forward.
There is this very surreal remembering, forgetting, remembering, forgetting for all of us I think. Sometimes it slams into us unexpectedly – like the volume of our grief and our old life getting cranked to 100 at a moment’s notice. I had a brush with that a week ago, when at the grocery store. I saw a couple walking in the aisle in front of me on my way to grab some foil. I did a double take, because the man – from behind – looked so much like Drew. His face didn’t really, but it was just something about the way he was walking. In an instant, a flash of remembering an ordinary moment at the store with him hit me like a freight train. I grabbed the foil and rushed out of the aisle past them, trying to hold back tears as I made my way straight to the self-checkout.
By the time I got to the car and closed the door, the overwhelm and confusion was in full force. Suddenly, for a split second, I could remember not just memories of that old life, but the FEELING of it – in a way I normally can’t (and really prefer not to because of how painful it is). The grief was so heavy. I drove out to the end of the parking lot and just cried for a few minutes… a good, loud, ugly cry like I haven’t had in a long time. The kind that really lets the emotions out. After just a minute or two, I felt calm again… but it was so painful. And so hard to feel.
Most days, I can’t remember the feeling of that life anymore. I remember things he said, or places we went, or funny jokes or shows we watched. I remember the sound of his voice, and his favorite color. But it’s very very hard to remember the feeling of what that life was like anymore. It has been for many years. So when something somehow wakes up that part of me, it’s incredibly traumatic. And confusing… especially because, I’m still in this alternate universe that I got dropped into. And I’m building a life here now, with beauty and joy and love and meaning. I’ve got a wonderful man in this life that I love as much as Drew… and a kiddo now who lights up my days. I’ve got a life here that would be devastating to lose – just as much as it was losing that other life.
There is no comparison of those two lives, they are simply both there, but normally, the old life is very much quieter – like at a 10% volume. And sometimes, when that other life slams into me like that, it feels like both of these separate worlds are cranked up to 100% volume simultaneously and it’s incredibly traumatic. It feels like my mind and heart and soul for a moment are trying to exist in two different places and it’s not physically possible and the entire experience sends shock waves through me.
I’m grateful that this sort of thing doesn’t last very long, at least not anymore. After a few short minutes and a good cry, I managed to quiet the volume back down to more of its usual level, and drive home to give Mike a big hug. When I told him about it later on, it ended up triggering something for him too, and we sat quietly letting the volume get turned up on his past, and on his pain.
It may not sound like a positive, to say that I prefer the volume of that old life to stay low, and quiet… but I don’t mean it in a negative way. Look at this way, I never, ever turn the volume OFF on that old life. It will always be on in the background. By my own choice, that life will always add some background music to this life. But in order to live this new life with this new man at a full and rich volume… in order to make our own music and be lost in our own rhythm, that life has to be quieter. You can’t have the volume of both turned all the way up.
I know for certain that Drew is fine with our music playing softly so that I might have the chance to live this new life with Mike at high volume. But we’ll never turn off the music from mine or Mike’s life with Megan that came before. They both play in the background of our lives daily, adding beauty to our new world. And sometimes, the volume will get cranked up on our old lives for both of us – without warning. And in those moments, we’re both ready to push pause for a few mintues and let the volume of our current life be quieter, so that our past lives can be fully heard and felt. I think that’s an important thing to find in someone new. Whether they are widowed or not, if they understand when it’s time to push pause and let the past blast at full volume for a moment, you’re golden.