“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.”
― Kahlil Gibran
22 September 2013—what is it? It is the first day of autumn, signifying another end to the growth from the previous spring and reminding us that winter beckons on the horizon to wash away all that remains from the tears of summer. Twenty-nine years ago, my son was two days old, and I was young and naïve—believing that joy was coming and life was worth the struggles it spawned. Today, this day in late September reminds me that my husband has been in the ground for three years and nine months.
We would most likely be celebrating his birthday today, since the 25th falls during the week. Now, I celebrate alone. I tried baking a cake one year, but I threw the batter out because I could not endure the torture of knowing he would never taste cake again. I considered making banana pudding another year because that was his favorite, but I just could not find the strength. I have not eaten banana pudding in nearly four years. I will never eat banana pudding again. He would be 58 this year. Instead, he remains 54 forever. We celebrated his last birthday in 2009 and now he has been in the ground for nearly four years. I still find myself worrying whether he is cold during the winter months. He hated the cold.
The last few years have been a process for me—a process of grief, financial and emotional struggle, and personal growth. Work and education consumes most of my waking hours, so I have little time to think, which is a good thing. It is when I am idle that my mind wanders. Fortunately, I am seldom idle. Late at night, I wonder what he thinks of how far my education has come and whether he is proud. After all, his push got me started on this path. Then I wonder whether I chose the most comfortable clothes for him to spend eternity wearing. I chose his favorite worn pair of Levis and a soft flannel he wore a lot. He is barefoot. I don’t think I told anyone that before. Shoes are so uncomfortable.
I’ve made such long strides into the realm of the living—and yet avoiding living the whole time. I’ve learned how to smile when it is appropriate, how to be quiet when necessary, and how to laugh when the situation demands laughter. It is only during the last year that I learned to accept inevitable truth—that my destiny is to remain alone . . . Doyle is never coming back. I also realized that my grief does not disturb others, it is witnessing that grief they find disturbing. Simply put—they just do not want to hear the whining. As long as only the darkness sees the tears and the sadness only appears within the mirror’s reflection, no one is bothered. Those two lessons have been the most difficult to bear, but bear them both . . . I did.
It is also during the last year that I believed loneliness would consume me, but my strength endures. I cannot say how many times I picked up my phone to call Doyle and tell him some exciting news or something so trivial such as seeing a deer standing alone on the highway’s edge. Sometimes, I pressed the speed dial number to his cell, sometimes I remembered before pressing, but it always hurt, always.
My conviction to endure life on my own is resolute. There is simply too much pain in knowing that no one will ever love me again, and I hope that my suffering has fulfilled whatever crime I committed. I know that is too much for which to hope, but it remains one of those little lies I tell myself just to cope. I hope that my pain has been enough payment. After all, it is through coping that we survive.
Since I stopped concerning myself with the need for companionship, I find myself at peace with solitude. I expect it and that expectation makes it easier. As human beings, we crave companionship. Overcoming human need is one of the most difficult tasks I faced through my journey with grief. But I remain determined, and once I am determined, it is nearly impossible to sway me from that course.
When people ask me how I am, and I respond that I’m well or my classic ungrammatical response—I’m good, I’m not really lying. I’m not telling the whole truth, but there is some truth. I am okay. I’ve accepted my fate. I know Doyle is gone and not coming back and I know that my battle with accepting solitude is part of my path, for whatever reasons. I know that I must complete my journey alone and I am coming to terms with it.
A very special man loved me with all his heart and I loved him back, and now he is gone. That is my reality. All I can do is keep walking my journey alone in hopes that at the end—he is waiting for me with open arms . . . that is all I can do.
©Sept. 2013 Relinda R.