I eagerly turned the page of the calendar this morning, glad to be done with another month. Another month without David, another month closer to…what? Death, so that I can join my beloved? Of course I do not wish for death; I want to live. I have children that need me, and things I want to accomplish in my life.
Another month closer to healing? I do want to walk through a grocery store without tears welling in my eyes. I wish, at the very least, to feel as though I am closer to healing rather than sliding backwards in my grief. Piles of unread library books taunt me on the trunk. David would have been reading them to Abby. Dirty laundry spills from two baskets upstairs, and another one in the basement, mostly towels. There is no excuse to use the dryer when we’ve had no rain, and yet hanging laundry on the line seems an insurmountable task most days.
As I drove to Earlville to pick up my grandchildren’s babysitter for the day, I noted how many people were out walking, and I thought~I could do that. It would be good for me. In the next instant, I considered how taking a walk that early in the morning would involve getting dressed, applying deodorant, scrambling around for a pair of socks, and putting on confining tennis shoes, and as quickly as I thought it, I talked myself out of the effort.
Most days I feel as though I am dispassionately observing my own journey through grief along with the rest of you, my blog readers. How long before she can get through an entire grocery store without crying? Why does she keep a kitchen light on all night? Can it be true that this loss permeates through every minute of her day, and no one around her can see it? Wouldn’t it be just as visible as blood pouring from her eyes? And, Dear God in Heaven, when is she going to stop writing about grief?
It is likely that I fooled very few of you into believing that I actually cared about the state of my closet or my wardrobe this past weekend. I am trying so hard to be the good mom, the fun friend, the light-hearted blogger who shares a peek into her closet or her bookshelves. Granted, it did make me feel good to accomplish something so basic. It is the mundane household tasks that are the most overwhelming right now; the dishes, the cooking, and the cleaning. The toilets. It was with some sense of detachment I took note of the state of the downstairs toilet recently. It is not like me to let things go so long, or to care so little. Wow, that is disgusting, I thought, and yes, I did clean it. I do manage to complete many of the basics of housekeeping, but not necessarily competently. Since David’s death, lunch at home for the children has been accomplished through the drive-thru of a local sandwich shop way more often than I’d like to admit.
I recently corresponded with a woman whose husband died more than ten years ago. I recalled how I wondered then how she could bear the loss, still not comprehending the depth of the grief. I had envied her marriage long before my own relationship with my husband became something to envy. How could a woman whose husband had caught their babies in home births bear to lose her partner in life? I think perhaps David had some inkling of what it would mean with our renewed relationship if one of us was to lose the other. He’d urgently asked “Would you be okay if something happened to me?” a few weeks before his death. The fear in his eyes when I answered, “No,” spoke volumes about his concern and love for me. I suppose I already knew what I might hear when I received the return e-mail from this woman:
“I remember the confusion and the feeling of being totally lost to what was actually going on around me, that things felt very unreal – and then all too real. I can remember thinking I was taking care of the necessities and then finding I’d missed something I never thought I would forget. I felt like my guts had been torn out. How do I go to bed without him? Get up without him? Make it through just one more day without him. I can’t tell you that you will move on and get over it. For me it was a matter of learning to live each day, each little thing all over by myself and I’d never ever lived on my own before. I felt so wounded. I can’t say that today I’ve healed. I think the loss stays with those of us who have loved truly with our souls and for me the only saving grace was finally after a long time realizing that the important parts of him are an integral part of me and I can never lose that. When I feel lost I look inside and think of him. It gave me a kind of peace. I hope you have found or will find this also.
– It took a year or more to realize that though I’d thought I was doing well part of me just wasn’t functioning the way it should.”
I took great comfort in her words, despite the obvious implication that this pain won’t soon go away. My feeling of being wounded is perfectly normal, as is my inadequate day-to-day functioning, and an increased forgetfulness.
Genesis 2:23-24: The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
When we have managed to obtain the Biblical ideal for marriage, as David and I did, it is no wonder that we experience what can only be described as heart-rending pain when we lose our spouse. Part of our flesh is abruptly ripped away, leaving a huge, gaping, open wound.
This morning I have willed myself to put one foot in front of the other and face yet another day without my beloved. I caught up with dishes while my coffee brewed, popped a vitamin pill in my mouth, ate some yogurt, and threw in a load of towels that I actually managed to hang on the line. I washed my hair, got dressed, and even applied make-up, with compliments David had so freely given me in recent months echoing in my head. (You look nice. You are beautiful. That looks nice on you. I like your hair that way.) I managed, also, to remember both the deodorant and perfume.
Then I sat down to write this very blog posting. Will my words someday help someone else through this journey called grief? Will another widow allow herself to be immersed in a three-day binge of mindless entertainment as a diversion from her loss? Will a writer bravely face the page as a method of working through their pain? Will someone in the early throes of the blinding pain of grief, google the words “loss of a spouse” and finding my blog, feel some semblance of solace in knowing that someone else lost their love, and at least today, was able to go on?
I do carry the best parts of David inside me. My husband, who rushed to open doors for females and the elderly, who hugged those he cared about and, post-cancer, said “I love you,” with ease, will always be a part of me. I can feel his kindness and concern for others welling up inside me as I offer to do a workshop on writing our way through our grief or impulsively blurt out to someone that I want to take grief counseling training someday. I want to write the handbook of grief, reach out to others, do unexpected kind things. If I am very, very still, and quiet, I can sense that God has a plan for me, that he can use my grief and my pain for good.
“Happy August 1st!” I could almost hear David say this morning, and though I am not there yet, I am determined to be on my way to happiness.