I’m Not Who I Once Was

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!

Every. Thing.

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.

14 thoughts on “I’m Not Who I Once Was

  1. You know I feel your pain. People treat you differently now that you don’t have your husband with you. Even the church people that you’re friends with act differently, for the most part. Do the women feel I’m going to go after their husband? Absolutely NOT! I only want MY husband!!! People don’t realize these things until it happens to them, then……they get it.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I guess I’m real when I write because I see no point otherwise. I write to help me understand better and in hope of helping others understand as well.

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  2. Birthdays and anniversary dates are the absolute worse. You’re right, you will never be the same and carefree days seem out of grasp. In the 12 years since Travis has died I can count on one hand where I got a glimpse of what carefree used to feel like. You and Jon had so many wonderful years together! I don’t know if it will help you but when my mind goes to that black day I purposely stop myself, and instead replace that terrible memory with one of my favorites. For me it was 2 weeks before he passed he bought a new truck and I helped him with the down payment. He hugged me with one of the tightest hugs he had ever given me and told me how much he loved me and appreciated me. Pick one of your favorite days together and dwell on that memory. You know you are healing when you can think of him or look at a picture and a smile comes more easily than the tears. Love you, cousin, and praying for healing and peace for your soul. Enjoy the solitude of your vacation. Love you!

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  3. My heart sorrows for your loss, I don’t know your pain! I pray as you wait to be reunited one day in Heaven with your husband, God shows you how to live your life here on earth. God be with you as you start your new journey here on earth. 🙏❤🙏

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  4. Oh, Connie. This is so beautifully written. I had to turn off the TV and read through my tears. I’m truly happy for the years that you and Jon had together. I was saddened when I heard of his death and now my heart goes out to you. By writing about grief, I believe you are helping others to deal with their own pain and sense of loss. What a tribute to Jon, and a tribute to love.

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    1. Christie, It is incredibly sweet of you to share your thoughts. Thank you. I hope my words resonate with others and that can help in some way. Writing about my own grief is therapeutic. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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  5. Well written and well conveyed, Connie. You are so very correct – the loss changes you forever. From that point on, you are not the same person, and it will take some time to get to know who you are now. For me, I knew I finally started a new chapter when I could look back on the fact that my wife died and I would never see her again, and not do so with complete regret and remorse and mourning. I was able to do it and revel in the love we shared for 31 years. I had finally accepted that she was gone, not that I didn’t believe it before, but that I had some degree of sad peace with it. It was then that I could fix my eyes on my future and set about being this different, broken-but-still-here person, and to live, rather than exist. Peace to you. KFG.

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