Another 27th. This is the 46th twenty-seventh of the month I have survived since the death of my life mate/soul mate death on March 27, 2010. At the beginning of my grief, each minute, hour, day seemed unfathomably long. I felt as if I lived years during that first month. I still don’t understand how I made it through that eon. The pain started out unbearable and got progressively worse. Each breath took such effort that it seemed as if it would be easier to stop breathing altogether. And yet I continued to breathe, one agonizing gulp of air at a time.
For the first three years, I could feel the grief surging as each twenty-seventh crept up on me, but today I only knew the date by the calendar. Even so, I might not have noticed if I hadn’t advanced his perpetual calendar.
About a month before he died, he told me he wanted me to keep the calendar. It was special to him — a family heirloom and a relic of his childhood — and he didn’t want me to throw it away with the rest of his effects. Which I probably would have done. I thought such calendars silly because if you don’t remember to advance the calendar each day, the calendar loses its effectiveness. He, of course, had the discipline to advance the calendar. No matter where we lived, no matter the state of his health or the stresses of our life, he always advanced the calendar first thing every morning.
And now so do I. It has become a way of honoring his life, of remembering him, of being connected to him in a small way. For a long time, I felt connected to him through grief. (Odd, that. It was the feeling of being disconnected from him that grieved me in the first place.) Now that my grief has waned, there is nothing to connect me to him. Unlike many who have lost someone important to them, I have never had a visitation, a sign, any indication that he still exists somewhere. He is simply gone — gone from my life, anyway.
The tears are gone, too.
It seems strange now that I grieved so deeply. I can barely remember loving someone so profoundly that his death tore me apart. Can barely remember that shattered woman who screamed her pain to the uncaring winds. Was that really me or simply a character in the book of my life? (I meant this as a metaphor, but I did write a book about my life, or rather my life of grief. That seems strange, too.)
We live each day as it comes, deal with each pain and sorrow, and somehow, through the years, we become something other than we were. I am no longer a schoolgirl dealing with the small dramas of grades, cliques, unacceptance. No longer a young woman desperately and radiantly in love with a man. No longer an adult struggling to live while her soul mate was dying. No longer a grieving woman.
At the moment, I am thrust in the role of caregiver for my 97-year-old father and homeless brother, but someday, I won’t be this woman, either. I don’t know what will become of me, don’t know what I will become (other than older), but chances are, I still will be advancing that ancient calendar in honor of the life that meant so much to 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.