I feel different about my grief lately and I feel sort of weird about this.
Mike’s 5th death date is November 15th, 2021. For the last four years, I have always had a heaviness in my heart when Fall came around because it meant the anniversary of the worst day of my life was looming. This year, I don’t feel dread about his death date. The truth is, I don’t feel anything really. This is not easy to admit because it makes me feel like a bad widow. It makes me feel like people will think I didn’t love him. And, worst of all it makes me wonder if I am less devoted to him than I thought I was.
I feel sad that I am not sad. All these new and uncomfortable thoughts make me feel out of sorts. I am wrestling with my emotions because I don’t feel heartbroken the way I have in years past; but, I am grateful because this is far less challenging to sort out than the raw grief I felt in other Novembers. As I approach my fifth year without him, I don’t feel an endless longing for him anymore. Instead, I feel a type of acceptance. I should mention that for years, I hated the word acceptance when it came to his death. I raged against accepting Mike’s death because I just couldn’t do it, until, one day I could…
It is hard to make sense of; but, it is accurate to say, that while I fought accepting his death, I also longed to come to terms with his deadness. In the early years, I fought to keep him alive in my mind while I simultaneously tried to smother my memories of him because these reveries caused me to endlessly ruminate about him. For years, thoughts of Mike took me away from living my own life. That was the tragedy of my early grief.
Now, after years of tediously processing my grief, I have come to accept that Mike is dead. However, what I was not expecting was feeling guilty about accepting his death. I am actually truly happy again, and something inside me feels like maybe I have accepted his death too much – if that is even possible.
A piece of me feels lousy because I have become good at living without him. Five years laters, I am proficient without him. I don’t feel sad daily anymore and this feels foreign to me because for years, my baseline was sad. Now, it isn’t.
I feel especially strange because I am not upset that it is November. I am not lost in thoughts about the life I should be living if Mike were not dead. The reality is, I feel fine. In truth, I am better than fine actually and this is what is messing with my psyche. Instead of feeling sad this November, I am happily living the life I have. It goes without saying that I am grateful that my life is good again, but a part of me feels bad for not feeling badly that Mike will be dead for five years in a few days and I am not marking this date with some type of anticipatory sadness. *Sigh. I just can’t muster it because the truth is, I am just not sad this year.
I know this might sound cold hearted. But, it is not. Obviously, I wish he was still alive. I *still* talk to him in my head and I think of him because he is imprinted in my heart. But, the truth is there is another person who takes up a lot of real estate in my heart now too. His presence in my life brings me happiness. Sharing part of my life with this new person brings me into the present. He holds the door open to the future and I am running toward it like my life depends on it, because it does. I know full well that my life cannot be lived in the past. My life is taking place here in the days and moments I share with him.
I know full well that only I can kick start my life and that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to live the absolute fuck out of the life I have. Mike would not expect anything less from me and most importantly, I will not allow less either. These days, I enjoy my life again. I laugh a lot. I smile again. And, I don’t feel the heaviness of grief continuously weighing on me anymore. There are many reasons for this, but most recently, I think it is him. My new person is here with me and he makes me feel alive again in a way that nothing else has since Mike died.
To be perfectly clear, it is not his job to bring me back to life. That is up to me; but, his presence in my life definitely does something to my heart and Soul. My guess is that my last big achings of grief have finally been satisfied because I have finally allowed myself to FEEL something significant again for someone.
Biking, painting, reading, music, writing, travel and all the other things I have engaged in could only do so much. These things entertain me, but they did not fill my Soul the way a significant other does. How could they? They are just things. A long time ago Mike was my person. My heart. My Soul. My Love. My best friend in all the world. So, in this way, it makes good sense that only another human being could awaken me to living life fully again.
By attributing my lightness of heart to my new person, I am not prescribing that those who are reading this go seek out the company of another person in an effort to “fix” their sadness. This is not my recommendation. A person is not the cure for your grief. No one person, no matter how amazing they are, can mend your life. It is your job to reconstruct a good life around the depth and breadth of the grief that exists inside you. It is never someone else’s job or responsibility to restore your happiness. True, genuine happiness comes from within. And, only you can generate happiness and contentment for yourself. No one, not one fucking person, is put on Earth to make you happy. You can only cultivate authentic happiness yourself. And, yes, it is incredibly fucking hard to do. And, let’s be real, happiness is not a constant state. Nothing in this life is permanent, we all know this too well.
Still, though it is not a permanent thing, happiness is golden. Those moments of bliss are what we cherish. I live for joy filled moments, I always have. Today we were out doing some ordinary errands and he looked at me and then he casually walked up to me and kissed me for no reason. It was the type of kiss that is given because you want to “be” close to your person. It was a kiss that said I want you to know that I care for you. It was a kiss that conveyed caring without saying a word. It was the type of kiss I used to take for granted.
It was just a brief exchange. A moment in time. One of those tender, sweet almost ordinary moments that become treasured when there are no more kisses to be had. It was a beautiful moment that took place on an ordinary Saturday. And, the romantic in me would like to think that this delicate moment exists somewhere – suspended in time. For me, it is these tender, tiny, gigantic moments that make my life worth living. This is the stuff that matters.
And, while I am typing to you about getting kissed for no reason at all, please know that I don’t want to be insensitive. I recognize that many of you long to be kissed; and, for this reason, I do not share my personal life with him because it might be hard to read about yet another thing you lost and long for. *Sigh.
I can tell you that I understand.
I remember longing for the kiss I wrote about.
I am the girl who “lifed” solo for nearly 4.5 years. I get it. I know the gutting aloneness that accompanies losing your spouse. I know the emptiness by heart. And, five years later, I can tell you that I will never forget the hollowness that took space inside me when I lost the love I had grown to know. As you know, you can not experience this loss without being profoundly changed.