Posted on August 30, 2016
It seems like ten years since I’ve seen his face, and yet I still expect him to come walking through the door almost every day. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that sad and empty feeling that comes with the realization that he won’t be walking through the door. Not today, not ever again.
I read a letter today that he had written me nearly a year before he developed cancer. He wasn’t prone to expressing emotions and seldom did (mushy) things like that, so it was a treasure I had safely tucked away, to look at again in the future when I needed a smile. It did make me smile. And it also made me cry. He told me that despite my being a “psycho stress ball” (his expression for people who worry a lot and who do express thoughts and emotions), he loved me. He said that he loved me from the first day we met and that he would love me until the end. How prophetic that turned out to be!
Neither of us had any clue of the nightmare that lay ahead for us several months down the road. And of course, neither of us had any idea that “the end” was coming much sooner than we ever could have expected. Sometimes I wonder whether he would have coped better if it had been me that was the first to go. I tend to think that he would have; but then I remember him telling me when he was sick that he was glad it was him and not me or one of the kids because he wouldn’t be able to handle that. Who knows? It’s irrelevant at this point anyway. It’s just one of those things that cross your mind when your loved one dies.
I’ve learned that grief comes in random waves, and that it’s unavoidable. A song over the radio, a favorite tv show, photographs, special dates, holidays – all of these can predictably bring memories and emotions, and they all do. But the unforeseen things are the ones that really knock the wind out of you. I didn’t anticipate the deep sense of loss that I would feel when the Olympic Games were on earlier this month. My husband & I always watched the Olympics together, both summer and winter, for over 20 years. I didn’t watch a single event this year and just felt overwhelmingly sad each time I saw the logo and promos. I wasn’t prepared for that and never saw it coming.
I miss my companion, my confidant. So many things have happened in the past two years that we can no longer share. So many things that we would have laughed about! Some people might say to go to his grave and talk to him, but if they actually tried that they’d soon realize what a stupid idea it is. You can’t interact with a dead person. I go to the cemetery every couple of days, but I don’t get out of my car other than to leave flowers there. I drive by and make sure his grave looks okay and that the flowers I’ve left are still there. But I have no sense that he is there at all. It’s just a stone in a cemetery. He never saw it, never even knew it exists. At home, I am surrounded by him everywhere, in every room. Usually his memories and I co-exist well together and I’m grateful for all the good memories I do have. There are moments though, where I am utterly lost and wonder how I am ever going to find my way again. Such is the life of a widow.