I realized with a start the other day that this house doesn't sound the same. No, there are no conversations any more but it's more than that. There are no sounds of daily living.
Someone was doing some work here in the kitchen the other day and I was in my office working. When he was done he started to clean up and was using the kitchen sink.
All of a sudden the house sounded "normal" again. I heard running water in the kitchen sink. I heard things clanging and being bumped. I heard another human being inhabit this space and for a second I could pretend it was John.
It felt good.
He came into my life at a time that was full of fear and change. I was unsure of where I was going and feeling bad about myself. He helped me to see myself as a strong and capable woman. He believed in me and that I could do anything. Eventually, I learned to believe that, too. John supported me in all my endeavors. He was my loudest cheerleader.
The line about "watching you sleep" made me smile. John often did that. Sometimes he took pictures of me sleeping with "the kids". He loved us, his family. And we loved him so much.
Maybe somehow he can still help me now, be with me, still help me find my way.
Is there a difference? Is it just semantics?
I am attending a spiritual retreat this weekend and that came up in reference to grief. The answer was pain was to be embraced but suffering was to be let go. And that was supposed to make it better.
Honestly, I don't buy it.
I think telling someone in grief that they shouldn't be suffering and that suffering is a decision is placing an unnecessary guilt trip on the person who is already suffering. And make no mistake. Grief is hard, painful, and causes suffering.
The definition of suffering is to undergo or feel pain or distress. According to the person running the retreat suffering was a choice. An example of suffering would be to say that "this shouldn't be happening." But it's OK to say that "this sucks".
For the life of me, I don't understand.
All I know is I am terribly sad. The sadness hurts. It is a physical feeling. I miss John with all my heart. I feel empty. Nothing matters.
Another remark made to me was "Would John want you to suffer?" Well, of course not. What kind of stupid question is that? But it happens. John and I have gone through things together that made us sad. We suffered together and knew it was a normal reaction to what we were going through. And we grew together in our sadness. We came through it. Together.
Now I don't have that.
There is nothing to get to on the other side. There is no "we" that can get me through this. There is only me. I know I will physically survive this. I know I can get things done. But I don't know how or if I can do anything for the hole that is in me. To do a play on words. I don't feel whole because of the hole.
It's not that I can't be whole. It's that I don't feel whole. I think there is a difference.
What all of this has taught me is that eventually no one wants to deal with this. When they say grief should last a year [another stupid notion], I think what they are saying is that no one can bear another's grief longer than that.
And that's OK. I think it's almost time for me to stop talking about this. To stop even writing about this. What else is there to say really?
Today marks 45 weeks. I had a meltdown in the shower this morning. I was reliving happy memories. Remembering the day John and I were married. I could still see him as I drove up to the office of the JP. John was standing in the doorway watching for me. He was so handsome in his suit, with a big smile on his face. This was our day.
And then the anger came, and the tears. I'll never see that smile again. I'll never know that kind of happiness again. I'll never feel that complete again.
I look at others who have lost through death. Some have lost their mates and they seem so together, so healed.
Then I look at me. I know I am in no way even beginning to heal. I am still in the disbelief stage. There are moments I still think I can turn to John and tell him something, that the noise I hear at the garage door is him coming home, that I can still call him at work.
I read stories about grief. Just yesterday I read a story in one of those essay compilation books [you know the one I mean - there seems to be one for every occasion and emotion]. The widow talked about how she attended a grief support group, how she changed the sheets on her bed and bought herself a baseball cap and how she moved on and felt empowered. Are you f-ing kidding me? A baseball cap? Is that all it took? Why didn't I think of that? I could have bought a boxful and felt so much better by now.
I sometimes wonder if I am just too weird for taking so long to go through this. If I am the odd one for being unable to move on. I'm getting things done - I am caring for our animals, I take care of the house, I take care of John's Mom and her affairs. I work. I am planning a Memorial for John and starting a Foundation in his name.
But inside I am useless. I am numb. I am empty. Maybe that is what it's just going to be from now on. Maybe it's different with sudden death. Maybe if John had been ill I would have been able to accept it. I would never want him to suffer. If his death meant an end to his pain, I would have known it was the best thing for him. But to wake up and just have him gone. There is no getting used to that.