It’s early morning where I am, but I’ve been up for awhile. I wanted to savor every minute of today. A year ago, at this time, he was still with me. He was still alive. And I can only keep saying that for just a few more hours. And then it will no longer be true.
I’m kind of stunned that a year has passed. Seems like only yesterday he wrapped me in one of his big bear hugs before he left for work.
Or was that another lifetime ago?
“And the two shall become one.”
I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I’m not who I once was. I don’t think I’ll ever be her again. That person was part of another. We were woven together into one. Seldom did either of us do anything of significance without considering how it would affect the other. Some of me died a year ago when he took his last breath.
No one in this world loves me like he did.
That’s the ticker tape racing across my brain many nights as I try to fall asleep. Even a year later, sleep is unpredictable and often quite elusive. Audio books have become my bedtime friend. I set the timer for an hour and often fall asleep, but on some nights, I reset the timer for yet another hour. But still, the words of the book are easier to listen to than the ticker tape.
No one in this world loves me like he did.
It’s not like I consciously dwell on those words, but they sneak up on me when I least expect it. When I’m out and about for the day just trying to do life, suddenly I am shocked by the thought: ‘Not one person in the world knows where I am.’ I’m not on his radar. He’s not texting and asking about my day. Funny — I kept my phone so close to me in the first month or so — until I finally realized I was waiting for a text from him. He always texted me throughout the day. Even as I write those words, I’m aware of how bizarre they sound. Crazy, right?
But grief is not sane.
You bargain. You imagine. You dream. You ask for miracles. Anything to get your life back on an even keel. I’ve walked through my house crying and begging, ”I just want my life back.”
My easy-going carefree life.
And yes, as I write those words, I know I was — am — a blessed woman. I had an easy-going carefree life, for the most part. Problems were small. I had the love of a wonderful, hard-working, godly faithful man for almost 50 years. We had a good and solid life. Full of love and security. Many women search their whole life to find that kind of love. I am blessed. And I am thankful.
I’m not who I once was. I will never be her again.
But I’m still here.
Who am I going to be? What will I do with what I’ve been given?
I don’t have any answers yet. To be honest, I’ve spent most of the year fighting those questions. I didn’t even want to hear them. This is not what I wanted. It’s not what I had imagined. C.S. Lewis said, ”Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn, by God you learn.” And I have learned that although my grief is very unique to me, it is also a collective circumstance millions of people are walking in every day. Have been since since the beginning of time. I find that oddly comforting. I am alone, yet I am not alone.
And now I see your grief. And I’m so sorry for your loss. And even if it’s been years, I know you still hurt. I see your pain. I get it. You are brave. You are strong. You keep walking. You keep moving forward. You are courageous. I know now that on some days, it takes every ounce of strength and courage to just get out of bed and face the day.
I too am moving forward but with new questions of my own. I’m trying not to ask, “Why me?” anymore, but rather, ”What now?” That’s been a tough transition. It’s been hard hard hard to watch people go on with their life as if nothing has changed. Can’t you see it? How can you be happy? How can you act like everything is okay?
Everything has changed!
No, I don’t know who I am right now. Or where I should be. Or what I should do. I’m just taking it one day at a time. Trying to do the next right thing. Recently, the next thing seemed like a vacation. Truth be told, I just wanted to get out of town on the anniversary of his death. I needed a distraction.
So here I am, me, myself, and I in a resort town in Florida… history… beach… ocean. All the things we loved together. But I chose a city we had never been to before to avoid as many ambushes as possible. I brought books and writing material. I even tucked some watercolors and an art journal in my bag in case I got inspired by this quaint town or the ocean sunsets.
I find myself not much interested in any of the tours or sightseeing. I’m content to find a shady spot and read my book and watch people. There have been moments when I miss him so much it hurts in my chest like I can actually feel my heart breaking apart a bit more. He would have loved this place.
Oh how I don’t want to do this. Any of it. I allow myself space to sit in that for awhile. I feel all the hard and sad feelings. And all the what ifs. I give myself grace to just feel the pain. Sometimes that is exactly the next step I need.
Grief is not something you can fix or get through. Grief is something you carry with you as walk forward. Some days it sits right in my lap and I give it all the attention it demands. Other days, I carry it in my pocket, just touching it at times throughout the day.
I think I may be the only person exploring this city alone. Couples. Families. Girlfriends. Everybody is with somebody. I don’t mind so much for the most part. I knew it would be this way. I could have brought a friend with me. But the only person I wanted to come isn’t available for trips this side of heaven anymore. I needed to do this trip by myself. Sleep when fatigue demanded it. Eat when hungry. Sit and do nothing if that’s what I needed to do.
I wanted the freedom to be me.
To begin the discovery of me without him.