Yet Another Saturday, My Sadder Day

Yesterday was Saturday, my sadder day. The love of my life died one Saturday almost two and a half years ago, and I have not yet managed to get completely over it. You don’t ever get over such a grievous loss, of course, but you can come to an accommodation with the absence, develop a new focus, perhaps even find happiness. It just takes a very long time — three to five years, or so I’ve been told. I’m doing well, all things considered, but I still struggle to find my way.

I loved him with all my being, and I continue to love him. My love for him has no outlet — I can no longer do anything for him or with him — so his share of my love fills my heart like a pool of unshed tears. I try to use that love to propel me into my future, knowing he wouldn’t want me to be sad for him, but the truth is, he has no say in the matter. (I don’t always a have a say, either — grief comes and goes as it pleases, following a timetable I seldom understand.) He’s gone, and that goneness continues to shadow my life. I feel his absence like an itch deep in my soul. I feel it in the world around me, in the very air I breathe. I’m practicing being part of the world, planting my feet on the ground, feeling connected to my self and my surroundings. Still, the world feels alien with him not in it.

I’ve come a long way from the shattered woman who screamed her pain to the uncaring winds. I’ve made new friends, seen amazing sites, tried different activities, sampled exotic foods, wrote hundreds of blogs, walked more than a thousand miles. I’ve done the best I can to life fully, but the truth is, I’m tired. I’m tired of his being dead, tired of having to put a positive slant on a situation that has no upside, tired of trying to live whole-heartedly with half a heart. Just . . . tired.

I’m not young anymore, but I’m not old, either. Sometimes the future yawns before me like a bleak and empty landscape. Most times, of course, I can look to the future with hope, though I probably will always be saddened and bewildered by his goneness, especially on Saturday, my sadder day.


Feeling Small

When you have a long-term relationship with someone, you are involved with something that is both you and bigger-than-you. By definition, love and a deep connection to another makes you bigger than you are, expanding your self beyond the barrier of your skin. After he dies, your grief is so enormous that it, too, expands beyond your self, filling some of the empty space he left behind.

And then one day, your grief shrinks into the confines of your body, and all you are left with is you and the unfilled empty space around you, and you begin to feel very small. Doing something to fill in that empty space doesn’t really help because you can’t replace something you were, such as being part of a couple or feeling grief, with something you do, such as volunteer work.

That’s where I am right now — feeling small — as if I am wearing clothes way too big for me. I miss being part of something that expands beyond my self, miss feeling as if I am part of something important.

I still have importance, of course. I am important in my 95-year-old father’s life — he needs someone to stay with him so he can continue to maintain his independence. I am important in my siblings’ lives since my being here with my father gives them peace of mind. I’m important to those who find comfort in my words. I am important to those I do volunteer work for. And yet . . . and yet . . .

My whole life has been a search for meaning, and somehow the importance of the quest is eluding me. I hope life has meaning — I’d hate for my mate’s death to be the end of what he was — but I no longer have any great desire to find out what that meaning is. If there is meaning, it’s there whether I search for it or not.

I sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, don’t I? But I’m not, or at least, not very. One day, this shrunken me will feel normal, and I might even forget that once I was more than I am. But until then . . . I’m just me, and right now that doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

Surprised by Grief

I continue to be surprised by the intensity and depth and variability of grief. It’s been more than ten months since my life mate — my soul mate – died. Most days now I feel normal, but “normal” for me is his being safe at home, perhaps in the other room, perhaps outside shoveling snow or watering our trees. The renewed realization that he is gone from this life still brings me raw pain. I’m getting used to being alone — in some ways, that aloneness feels normal, too. Until I met him, I’d always expected to be alone, and so part of me is looping back to that earlier life when I had only my concerns to worry about.

Still, despite that normalcy, there are days when it feels as if he just left, as if he walked out on me (or I walked out on him) and it’s a matter of time until we reconcile our differences. I don’t know where such thoughts come from — we had no major differences. Well, except for the soul-shaking differences that came when our journeys diverged — his into death, mine into continued life.

I mentioned before that love and grief were the bookends of a relationship. Because of its intensity, the ability to change a person’s life and outlook, and the all-consuming focus on another person, grief seems to mimic falling in love, though in a bleaker, blacker, lonelier way. And like love, grief stirs up your depths, making you realize you are more than you ever thought you could be. As I’m slowly beginning to define my life solely by me, not by “us”, I’m seeing another similarity. When a couple embarks on a life together, they learn to depend on each other, to find ways to complement each other, to meld their likes and dislikes, their hopes and frustrations into a workable emotional environment for both parties. When half of a couple dies, the person left behind has to find a way to unmeld. To go from thinking about both of you, to thinking solely of yourself, to depending solely on yourself. It’s hard and painful and feels futile at times. (Because, you think, if life is worth living, he would still be here.)

It’s like a teeter-totter. When one person leaves abruptly, you crash to the ground. You do learn to play by yourself, but you are always aware that the other side is empty. Gradually, you get used to it, though — or at least resigned. And that’s where I am, most of the time. Resigned.

I’m even getting resigned to that great yearning I once talked about, especially since it’s nothing new. Looping back to the time before I met him, when I was young, I remember being consumed by yearning, though I never knew for what. I didn’t feel it when we were together, but I feel it now. Could that yearning have been for him? Or could our being together have masked the earlier yearning? Just one of the many questions stirred up from the depths by grief.