The feeling in my stomach, described as a dark pit or a mini tornado churning my insides. Its anxiety. There’s a lump in my throat at the thought of an impending date. Total disbelief that half a year has passed since I last held him in my arms. I wonder how many breathes I’ve taken in the last 187 days without him. I wonder how I have managed to keep breathing at all.
In the 109 days since I wrote 78 days of a widows grief not too much has changed. I’ve taken many baby steps forward but the emotions and longing at 187 days really does not differ too much from 78 days.
At 78 days I could not write in first person, at 187 I can. That is progress.
The new normal as its put is this. Upon opening my eyes in the morning I am given less than a minute but more than a second of peace from reality. Where is he, I wake wondering before my mind quickly catches up.
I look over to his photo, some mornings I can smile at him, some mornings I am angry with him, some mornings I ask him “when are you coming home?” and some mornings I cry. If I didn’t have little humans to look after I doubt that I would bother to get out of bed at all.
Each day is different, I never know what to expect anymore. One minute I think “I’m doing well today” then out of nowhere it hits like an unexpected tidal wave, drowning any progress I think I’ve made. The thoughts ‘I’m doing well’ are simply derived from learning to live with grief. Grief begins to become normal. This is my life now, this is what’s normal, and this is how I will most likely continue living day to day for quite some time yet. Time stands still for me. I cannot grasp or understand how it has been half a year when it feels as though last week he were here.
How does the rest of the world view my grief, it is masked quite well. Acquaintance’s “you seem to be doing better now.” My thoughts “Do I? Thank you for your weak observation.”
How I really respond to that comment “One day at a time.” Then they usually reply “you’re such a strong woman.”
How uncomfortable they would feel if I were to tell them how it really is.
Some days but not every day, I wake only to wish I’d never opened my eyes, can you imagine what it’s like to feel that way? Wishing away the days here because with each day that passes it’s another day closer to seeing him again. Then proceeding out of bed with almost no motivation, I boil the kettle before anything else because after a maximum of 5 to 6 hours sleep a night for the last 6 months it’s impossible to function without caffeine. Every morning using the same blue coffee cup, the last coffee cup that his lips touched.
Looking out the kitchen window I wonder will he give me a sign today, can he see me, does he know my thoughts, can he feel how much I miss him?
A fog clouds my mind, a fog of him, of our memories. A memory comes to mind and I become lost in it for a few moments. I wish he was here. Getting used to grief, becoming accustomed to it, living with the same emotions that were present the day that time stopped. Just adapting.
Learning over the past few months that tears do not change anything, they do not bring him back. I no longer cry in front of others as often. Tears do not solve anything and as much as I would love some help I’ve found tears just make people around me uncomfortable and they pull away. So I leave the house with a mask on. I can hold conversations with people now, although only really hearing every second or third word that passes their lips. My attention span is near non-existent because although I hide it well my mind is still constantly fixed and clouded with thoughts of my love.
Going through each day thinking about the life we had, wondering what he would have been eating for lunch as I order my own. Having conversations in my head with him, asking him questions out loud then wondering if he can hear me. Is he sitting beside me, just as lost as I am? Is he trying to find a way to answer my questions? What is he doing? Where is he? Then when I am alone, lost in thoughts of him, tears begin to well before spilling out to roll down my cheeks. I stare at his photograph and place my fingers gently on the glass, losing myself just staring at his face as if he were standing in front of me.
I whisper “I love you, I wish you were here”.
Was that him? The person walking down the street that I drove past. I turn around just to be sure. The stranger is no longer there and I wonder if it really was him or just my imagination playing tricks on me again. There is a joy and sorrow that accompanies daily life, joy in watching our children grow, play and learn. Sorrow that he is not here to share the experience with. Wondering if he can see them, their smiles. Looking at pictures of us all as a family and noticing how much the children have grown up since he was here. They are so much taller, smarter and cheekier. He would be so proud.
Then I wonder “is he really missing out on them” or “is it just us missing out on him” either way it’s equally unfair, this life is unfair.
People no longer speak his name as often because they have moved on. It has been half a year for them, but for me time stopped the day he passed away. There is no end to this grief because there is no end to the love I have for him.
When I close my eyes I am taken to his, a place of peace from the new normal.
It’s now been 187 days of him constantly on my mind so again when you talk about him I don’t feel as alone in my thoughts. His name sounds like home to me.
It’s likely unbelievable to all but those who have experienced it, that for almost 18 hours a day over the last six months my mind has consciously thought of only him. And unconsciously I don’t feel it would be much different.
Picture yourself in a canoe alone on a river, you have one oar and no life jacket. You cannot see the banks of the river beside you or even the rapids in front of you. You are surrounded in a thick blanket of white fog, so thick it’s almost suffocating. However when you look behind, the stream is placid and the air is clear. The banks of the river are visible and so beautiful their full of life and abundance. You wish you could turn your canoe around but the current won’t allow it so your forced into the fog, leaving the past behind.
Floating with no sense of direction away from a life that was filled with love, hope and dreams. Blindly moving forward and struggling just to breathe.
This river seems as though it will never meet the ocean. Every now and then you’re unexpectedly thrown into the rapids and the thought that you may drown crosses your mind. Sometimes you want to give into the waves and let them carry you away. But somehow you manage to find hidden strengths. Taking hold of your oar, you continue to fight through the waves around you.
This is how I describe the last six months of my life.
What happened in the last six months? Each day has been so very similar to the one before it. Some good days, some bad days, lots of sad days and lots of days I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
At 187 days I still long for his touch, his voice, his smile, his heart beat, his advice, his love, his smell. I still long for the life we had, I long for him. I love him.