“Of the widow’s countless death-duties there is really just one that matters: on the first anniversary of her husband’s death the widow should think I kept myself alive.” – Joyce Carol Oates
They say that the first year after a major loss is the hardest, that it is within that time frame that you learn to adjust and accept what has changed in your life and that those changes are essential. That the hurt is normal, the reminders are normal, the confusion is normal, the feeling of being completely and utterly detached are normal. I will walk into rooms and wonder why he isn’t there. I will look at my phone for calls that won’t happen. I’ll look out the door when someone knocks hoping he will be there. Its all normal when you are grieving the loss of someone as close to you as your spouse was. The wondering why someone so wonderful was taken when I, someone not as special by any stretch of the imagination, was left here is normal.
Then there’s the other part: The not wanting to be here part. The not wanting to accept this reality part. The hating having been left behind and being angry for it part. The sadness and anger intermingle and feed each other so much that its hard to distinguish which one is happening when. I’m not angry with Alex for dying. I couldn’t ever stay angry with Alex when he was alive and that hasn’t changed. Instead, I’m angry that the Universe decided to take him away from all the people who loved him. I’m angry that for what he never got to experience and what I never got to experience with him. I’m angry at myself for everything I’ve screwed up at since he died.
And you know the stupid, crazy thing? Its normal. The brain fog is normal, the anger is normal, the annoying repetitive crazy thoughts are normal. Everything negative that is associated with this process is normal.
Alex has been gone for 6 months now and I can say for certain that I get it now. I accept that he isn’t coming back and that there isn’t anything I can do about it. I accept that I’m going through this process and that it will take however long it takes. I accept that I haven’t done a good job at some things and I’ve rocked the fuck out of others. I accept that my husband loved me, that he took care of me, and that I now have to take that and use it to do Me – whatever that winds up being – for the rest of whatever eternity I have. I accept that I ROCKED being a Wife and partner. I accept that I wasn’t perfect and that I messed stuff up sometimes and that I can be frustrating and stubborn and all those things – but when the shit hit the fan I was right there, every day, all day, never once complained and never once felt like I was being pressured into something. I gave everything I had to Alex and I don’t regret even a second of having been with him. I never will.
Most importantly: I understand that I still have a lot to give the world. I still have a lot of things to do. I have promises to keep – both to Alex and myself – and for that reason and sometimes that reason alone: I am still standing. I am still here. I am still fighting for my own life like he always pushed me to do and encouraged me to do. I have to fight the urge to push life away and instead have to learn to embrace it and roll with it.
I hope that six months from now there will be further revelations and that this journey will continue to unfold and look however it will wind up looking. If nothing else, know this: I am finding me. I am accepting me. I am learning to understand Me. And that will have to be enough for right now.