Across the Great Divide

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my life mate/soul mate’s death. It seemed like it should have been some sort of great divide, though why I expected this particular anniversary to make any more impact than any other anniversary, I don’t know. Maybe because five seems such a momentous number. A prime number. A strong number. Maybe because it comes at the same time my father’s house was sold, leaving me without a place to call my own. (Though I never did call this place my own. It was my father’s house, and now it belongs to all his heirs.)

The Black Canyon of the GunnisonBut there was no divide. Today is just the same as any other day. Jeff is still gone, and I am still left alone to deal with his goneness.

People advise me not to look to the past, to put his death behind me, and for the most part it’s good advice since there is nothing we can do about that which has passed. The problem is that although Jeff is gone, leaving our shared life in the past, his absence is very much a part of my present.

His absence brings an urgency to my life that it would not otherwise have since his goneness is a constant reminder that death is but a breath away. His absence brought me to this desert town to look after my father — if Jeff hadn’t died, I would never have come, would never have found dance, would never have made so many friends. His absence creates not only a void that begs to be filled but an uncertainty that demands to be acknowledged — since life is uncertain anyway, it makes sense to embrace that uncertainty along with a need for adventure. His absence engenders a sense of uncaring. It’s not that life doesn’t matter — it does. It’s that it doesn’t matter so much what I do or where I go because no matter where I am, there I am. And there he isn’t.

I know I can be happy because I so often am. I know I can find joy in living and discovering, searching and learning, maybe even loving, because I do. But none of that negates his absence because although the great divide of death separates us, his absence will always be a presence in my life.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

6 Responses to “Across the Great Divide”

  1. Rose Chimera Says:

    I so know what you are talking about in this post. People advise you not to look into the past, but I don’t think that’s what you’re doing. That’s not what I do. I do look at the here and now and the future. The here is changed because Mike died, like Jeff died. The “here” today is different, not planned because they died. Accepting that isn’t looking to the past, it’s just that…acceptance. Not liking it, but it is what it is and we can’t do anything to change it. I agree with you that Jeff has a direct impact on your today and future as Mike does with me. If Mike was alive I wouldn’t have to be dealing with….all sorts of painful decisions. If Jeff was alive your life would be different today. Their passing does leave a void, indeed one that cannot be completely filled up maybe, but one that can be at least slightly tended to. I hope this new chapter in your life brings you peace, joy and continued happiness.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      His being part of my present in no way holds me back. It’s just a fact of my life like needing to breathe. At least I can breathe. For so long, just taking a breath caused too much pain.

      Wishing you peace and joy.

  2. Holly Says:

    “his absence will always be a presence in my life.” Absolutely.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Well, you did warn me that his absence would follow me, that I wouldn’t be leaving it behind. In a way it’s comforting as long as it doesn’t stop me from going headlong into the future.

  3. Alan O'Brien Says:

    I’m about a third of the way through “Grief: The Great Yearning”, and it has touched me deeply. You are spot on in so many ways, it’s almost as if you were looking into my life. I too had a chronically ill spouse (kidney disease) who passed away last March 9th from lung and brain cancer at age 63. She survived six weeks after her diagnosis.

    I was expecting the one year anniversary to be momentous. I went with a few dear friends to the mausoleum, and although emotional, I felt a numbness. There had to be more, but an empty feeling pervaded. It was her birthday, three weeks earlier on February 16th, that brought me to my knees. The finality. The irreversible truth of my new life hit me hard. Your book is bringing me great comfort. Just knowing my thoughts and actions are shared by so many following such a horrible event brings some solace. Thank you for such an insightful, soul-baring book. And I still have two-thirds to go!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so very sorry about your wife. For many of us, the first anniversary passed without incident, but then the second year came, and we experienced what you did on your wife’s birthday — the finality. I still can’t believe I will never see him again in this life. It seems impossible people can be so very gone.

      Thank you for writing. It helps knowing that my words bring comfort.


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