Every step I take on grief’s journey brings with it surprise and sadness. I’ve come far enough that I am no longer wracked with pain and sorrow at the death of my life mate/soul mate, though sadness and loneliness do shadow my life, and tears are sometimes needed to wash away my yearning to see him once more. Now that the trauma of his years of dying has dissipated, I remember more of what he once was, and those memories have both given him back to me in an oblique sort of way (which surprises me), while separating us even further because of the profound reminder that he is no longer here (which saddens me).
For so long, the two images I had of him in my mind were the last time I saw him, right after he died, before the nurses enshrouded his body in a white blanket and first time I ever saw him when he was young and vibrant. The juxtapositioning of those two images shattered my already broken heart. I could not understand how that strong, radiant being became the wasted unbeing who barely made a dent in the bed.
I had a lot to process during those first years of grief and now that I’m past the shock and disbelief and have even managed to come to terms with the anger, guilt, and regrets, those two images are fading to the same sepia tones as the rest of our thirty-four years together. His goneness — the very void of his absence — haunted me for almost three years, but now I’ve become more used to his absence (though I still do not like it at all!), and that too, serves to give him back to me, at least in memory.
But the truth, that I will never again see him in this lifetime, is still incomprehensible. How is it possible that he is gone? How is it possible that I am still here?
Maybe I have tasks to undertake that he cannot help me with, and that is why I am here — to complete these tasks by myself. Maybe it’s simply chance that he died and I didn’t. And maybe the reason (or absence of reason) is as unfathomable as death itself. But in the end, the reasons don’t matter. It’s the reality I have to deal with, and the still unpalatable reality is that, however near he sometimes seems in memory, he is immeasurably far from me.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.