Approaching the five-year anniversary of his death spurs so much reflection and realization. He’s really
not coming back. In my mind, I always knew that, but in my heart, a little part of me continued to hope. I’ve reached that important juncture, which most widows reach at some point. I have to accept reality and stop clinging to that little piece of hope left in my heart.
The reality is that I must complete this life alone. It’s taken me almost five years to accept that fact. I am not a young woman anymore. The most difficult part of accepting reality is adjusting what I believed most of my life. Like the indoctrination I often condemn – I, too, am indoctrinated. I’m indoctrinated to believe some part of the fairy tales I read, you know the kind. The kind of fairytales where everyone lives happily ever after and the future is bright and cheerful. That’s not reality. It may happen for some, but not for all. The reality is that happiness comes in pieces and all one can do is cling to those pieces and cherish the moments. They do not last. People leave. People change. People die. That is reality. Happiness is fleeting, and sometimes, all those pieces appear in one big chunk and that is all there is. There’s no fairytale ending; there’s no chance of a random piece drifting your way again. Acceptance, strength, and endurance replace bliss, love, and optimism.
I was one of the lucky ones. For nearly 20 years, I shared a love so special and so rare that many never find such a depth of companionship. For me, the only way to survive the emptiness that inevitably appears when it is over is to accept that it was the highlight of my life. Instead of whining about how there is nothing to look forward to, I should concentrate on looking back and recognize that something in my destiny allowed me to experience 20 years of happiness. And I should be grateful I had that. I was one of the lucky ones. But he is not coming back and it’s over. The future is merely an obstacle course that I must complete alone. No one can help me with that task.
For a widow or widower, who was madly in love, adjusting to a life devoid of love is similar to spending a long time in the bright sunlight and suddenly running into darkness. It takes a long time for your eyes to adjust to the change of light. You may see again, but it will take time. Some may never see again. Their eyes may remain darkened. Some may even see bright sunlight again, but many will not. I am not of the fortunate; I will never see the sunlight again. I spent twenty years in the bright sunlight and entered complete darkness. My eyes are adjusting though. I belong in the darkness. I am invisible in the darkness. One day, I will see the sunlight again. And in it, he will be waiting with open arms.
Whenever he looked into my eyes, he looked into my soul and I felt loved. Even on my worst days, I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world because he believed that to be true. Whenever he wrapped his strong arms around me, I felt safe. I will never feel beautiful again. Vanity? No, just humanity. No one sees into my soul anymore. No one dares to look into my eyes. There is nothing there anymore.
Every now and then, I imagine that I will wake up one day. Then, I remember that I have not slept in years. And the fleeting moments in which I think this nightmare will end are rare now.
“what a luxury it was for people to be able to hold their loved ones whenever they wanted.” ~Cecelia Ahern
I am almost certain that I recently broke. I laughed. I did not just emit properly timed laughter; I really laughed, almost hysterically. At some point during mid-laughter, I sobbed. Just like that. My laughter transformed into pitiful wails instantly. I could not stop. I sobbed that way for almost a solid hour, just gasping for air in between gut-wrenching sobs. Oddly enough, I do not remember what was so damn funny in the first place; it was something I saw on the television. It was during the next moments that I woke.
Really. I did. I just felt different, not better or worse, just different. I guess I finished another stage. Following my break, tears just continued to flow down my face. I know because the tears tickled my face and I would have to wipe them away. Sometimes, a tear would quickly make its way down my cheek and fall onto my book. Just like that—drip . . . drip . . . drip. It must be comparable to existing as a leaky faucet. I remember wondering if there was a way to turn the faucet off. (Note to self—there is not an arrow on one’s heart directing which way one should turn for off).
I spent the next day in silence. Total silence. I did not turn on the radio or television. The only sound I heard was the sound of the wind whenever I walked my dog and the occasional drip . . . drip . . . drip . . . of the faucet from my heart.
“When Grandma read me:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall . . .
I spent the first forty-four years of my life wearing blinders. I sympathized with others, but I lacked the insight into what true loss means. His death brought me to a new level of understanding, one that devastated me. . . but it gave me new eyes, a new perception, and a new awareness. I could see not only into their eyes, but also into their souls. I could feel their pain and I wondered had he cried so hard and for so long that he forgot to breathe and nearly suffocated under the weight of the enormous pain. I wondered whether she had cried so much that the seemingly endless well of tears had an end indeed. I wondered if she curled into a ball gasping for air while her hands grasped for some invisible thread of hope. I looked into hundreds of sets of eyes, feeling their souls . . . just wondering if they cried so hard and for so long that they realized they could stop smiling. I wondered whether their smiles were weapons they wielded like swords. I wondered when they would surrender their weapons. I just wondered . . .
The relentless barbs on the circle of endless grief sting and bite and chant, “When, oh when?” Oh, what hopeless fools we become when we believe only that which we can touch and see. There must be more…or else…whatever are we waiting for? Some live in ignorance of the true sting of grief. An acquaintance dies and they assume they are experts on grief. Hope…it dies. Grief…it never dies; nor does love. The intricate web of existence forever intertwines love and grief. Regardless of what I do in waking state, there, in the hidden recesses of my soul, a tiny voice reminds me that I was once loved. It also whispers that I will never be loved that way again. And as I drift into slumber tight in the cold embrace of misery, it whispers, “Soon, very soon.” All the while, the relentless barbs sting and bite and chant, “When, when, oh when?” And my soul cries out, “Please, please,” but no one hears the desperate silent cries of the bereaved.