We’ve been anticipating this for over two years now. It was not sudden. It was not a surprise. But somehow it was so sudden and so surprising.
I didn’t know what it would feel like. I could imagine grief scenes from movies – like Steel Magnolias, The Book Thief, Ladder 49, Little Women…
My sadness doesn’t feel like that. My sadness feels like it’s alive. Unpredictable. Independent. Changing.
I would like to say something beautiful. But this hurts. And I’m scared. I’m not sure I’m strong enough. I’m not sure I can do this. I want to look forward. Look forward to things that haven’t happened yet. But all I really want to do is go back. I want to go back. I don’t want to have to live my life without him. I’d rather freeze time right here.
In the first moments… those first seconds when we realized he was gone… it didn’t feel real. It felt like we were all pretending or playacting. It still kind of does. My brother’s son kept asking him why he was pretending. We don’t often live out that kind of rawness – we’re used to only seeing actors pretend it in movies and writers create it in novels.
But this was real.
Every day we are one more day removed from his death. Today is the fourth day. I hate that time is distancing me from him. Time is supposed to heal our wounds, but I’m worried all it will do is diminish the significance of what we had.
It’s not like I have been weeping straight through these four days. I’ve laughed. My siblings and I laughed in the hours after his death sitting next to his body. I don’t think I cried at all yesterday. I fool myself sometimes and think that this isn’t as bad as what I thought it would be. And then an hour later I realize that it’s much worse.
It feels so broken.
I have these warring pieces in me. Like any time I interact with a stranger – at this point it has mostly been cashiers. Half of me is bitter because they have no idea what has happened – they don’t what I have lost and what I have to grieve. But this other half is grateful I am not marked by this grief in their eyes – I can be normal and whole.
We’ve been hibernating.
We’ve holed ourselves up in our home. The place where he died. I walked into my parents’ bathroom today for the first time since it happened. The memories in there are sharp. Very clear and very sharp. The bedroom too. And his chair. This house still holds so much of him. I know little by little we will clear him away.
I don’t want anyone to not know him. I don’t want to make any new friends because they will never have met him or understand who I am because of who he was.
We lost him little by little, but we also lost him all at once. I saw him breathing the last day. I saw how hard he fought to breathe. And I saw him stop. Just like that. He stopped breathing. And he was gone. He left. He’s gone.
I’m so sad he’s gone.
I’m not sure I’m big enough to hold this sadness. I think it is going to spill. I am going to contaminate everyone around me. I have this fear that from here on out I will be a sad person. I am marked. It’s permanent. What happened has happened and it can’t be undone. He can’t come back.
And I miss him.
I’ve missed him since before he died. We said goodbye little by little as we lost pieces of him little by little. But I even desperately miss what we had in those last days. I miss helping him stand up out of his chair. I miss pushing his wheel chair. Rubbing my hands across his back. Pulling his sweatshirt over his head before bed. Giving him his meds. Injecting him with his blood thinner. Positioning his legs in bed. Handing him his toothbrush. Helping him take a drink of water. Pulling the covers over his tired body and kissing him good night.
He didn’t talk very much toward the end. But he was always right there. I could look over and see him sleeping in his chair. I could walk over and touch his hand. I could sit next to him and hear him breathe. I just want to keep taking care of him forever. But he doesn’t need me anymore.
But I still need him.
I don’t think I’ll ever not need him. I don’t think this gap he’s left will ever fill. I’m not sure how to live with this hole inside of me. Do I pretend like it’s not there? Do I rip my shirt in half and demand every soul acknowledge its presence? Or do I sit by its edge quietly letting my feet dangle?
I don’t now how to grieve this.
I don’t think I have the energy. I feel like I have the flu. I feel like I have been hit by something large and fast. I have these body aches. My throat hurts. I wonder if I have a fever. I am eating and drinking but I feel strangely thirsty and sick to my stomach.
I could keep going on and on.
But I’m not sure what the point is. Maybe only to make record of my experience. To bear witness to something painful. To give it credence. To make sure it is documented and never forgotten.
Because as time moves me farther away from him, I want the memories from when I was close. I want to be as close as I can be for as long as I can. Maybe that’s not healthy. But I’ve already told you that I’m broken.
Can I just be broken?