The worst day of my life was not the day my life mate/soul mate died. That particular day was sadly inevitable, one I actually had looked forward to. He’d been sick for so long and in such pain, that I was glad he finally let go and drifted away. After he died, I kissed him goodbye then went to get the nurse, who confirmed that he was gone. She called the funeral home, and I sat there in the room with him for two hours until they finally came for him. (They came in an SUV, not a hearse. And they used a red plush coverlet, not a body bag.) I might have cried. I might have been numb. I don’t really remember. All I know is that I sat there with him until almost dawn. I couldn’t even see his face — they had cleaned him and wrapped him in a blanket — so I just sat there, thinking nothing.
The worst day of my life came fifty-five days later, exactly two years ago. I spent all day cleaning out his closet and drawers, and going through boxes of his “effects.” He had planned to do it himself, but right before he could get started, he was stricken with debilitating pain that lasted to the end of his life, and so he left it for me to do. I would not have undertaken the task so early in my grief, but I had to leave the house where we’d lived for two decades and go stay with my 95-year-old father, who could no longer live alone.
I knew what to do with most things because my mate had rallied enough to tell me, but still, a few items blindsided me, such as photos and business cards from his store To Your Health (where we met). Every single item he owned was emotionally laden, both with his feelings and mine. The day was like a protracted memorial service, a remembrance of his life, a eulogy for “us”.
How do you dismantle someone’s life? How do you dismantle a shared life? With care and tears, apparently. I cried the entire day, huge tears dripping unchecked. I have never felt such soul-wrenching agony. I’ll never be able to do anything else for him, so the work and my pain was my final gift to him. I was glad I could do that one last service, but I sure don’t want to ever go through anything like that again.
The only good thing about living the worst day of your life is that every day afterward, no matter how bad, will be better than that day.
I’m not particularly sad today — the sadness came yesterday. Despite it being Saturday, my sadder day, and a day of sporadic tears, I woke with a smile. I’d dreamt we were cleaning out the house (which is odd considering that I did not remember until afterward that today was the anniversary of when I went through his effects). In the midst of the usual chaotic dream images, there was one short clear moment. We were sitting side-by-side. He smiled at me, kissed me gently, and I rested my head on his shoulder.
This was the first time in almost two years that I’d dreamt about him. It was lovely seeing him again, if only in my dreams.