Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Grief Channel

A year went by.  I wonder, where did it go?  Yes, I survived, but what did I learn and was I truly present in the moments that have passed?  I try to remember exactly how I felt or what I was doing at this time last year.  I can't.  Only snippets come back to me.  I remember last year, on New Year's Eve going to bed early.  I remember the relief of sliding into bed and pulling the soft blankets around me, laying my head on the pillow.  I remember sleep was my only haven -and even then, it was a minimalist haven, at best.

My husband passed away on December 15th, 2011, from Pulmonary Fibrosis.  He was the love of my life.  The only person that knew all of the real me.  When he was alive, I had somehow elevated him to hero status.  In my eyes, he was the only one who defined intimacy.  My partner, my mate. 

I was in denial, looking for him around the house.  Still, opening my bedroom door and seeing a faded image of him in blue-jeans and glasses, smiling, as I came through the door.  Then, poof!  The image is gone, he is no longer there, and the impact of that would immediately bring me to my knees.  No!  Where did you go?

I was in auto-pilot mode.  Like a zombie, moving slowly in my mind. Coiling up his oxygen tubing.  His glass of water on the nightstand.  Folding his glasses.  Fluffing his pillow.  Looking at those stupid meds on the table.  Those were the first to go and I bagged them up with disgust and anger. 

Then I would look for him again.  It was as though I had misplaced him.  I can't find him anywhere.  I still feel that way.

Then, the crying.  Constant crying.  Not the kind your mind thinks about before hand and then the tears come.  No, it was just the immediate tears before the brain has a chance to catch up.  The grief, palpable.  It was physical.  The tears during the day, then at night.  At bed, my mind ripping through the tangible love and experiences we shared was like torture.  Then the sleep comes and I see him, he comes to me.  Upon the first collective consciousness of morning, a thud in my chest and the tears come again.  It goes like this, on and on. 

Despite the physical ache and heart wrenching longing for my husband, there was also a parallel feeling that somehow he was watching me.  I could just feel it.  Even from the very moment that his eyes lost their sparkle and I knew he was gone.  I felt him watching me. 

Everything I did from that moment on, there was a deep feeling that he was seeing it all.  There were even moments within me that I felt shy about this.  In our marriage, although we shared the most intimacy I had ever experienced, we also had established a certain level of manners and respect for each other.  There were just things we did not do in front of each other.  Great.  Now he has the advantage of seeing all of those things about me.  But, what could I do besides just being me?  I hoped that wherever he was, he had a deeper understanding of human-nature.

Somehow months passed, although, my emotional disposition had not.  I stayed in a foggy, grey area within the recesses of my mind and heart.  Stuck repeating the same day, every day.  I told myself that grief has no time limit.  I knew in my heart what I was doing is what I needed to do.  All the while, I still felt our connection, I still felt he was watching me.  I began to consider what things where like from his point of view, wherever he was...

Just for one second, I contemplated the idea that he was truly watching me and it wasn't some sort of trick my mind was playing on me.  What if he was somehow still connected to me?  What if he died, but still had his own thoughts and feelings?  What if he was checking in on me and maybe flipping through others he cared about, too?  My mind imagined him flipping through TV stations of all the people that he loved.  His children and mine, his mother, ex-wife, siblings, best friend.  I could see him doing that.   Just checking in to see what's going on and seeing our daily struggles in a place he no longer dwells.  Then he gets to my channel.  There she is crying.  There she is grinding her teeth at night.  There she is crying again. Over and over. The Grief Channel plays the same thing all the time.

One day, I was blogging on the computer and the feeling came to me that he was watching me again.  A feeling of approval came over me, as though this made him happy.  I realized that I want to make him proud.  We are still in a relationship.  When he looks at my channel, I want him to beam with my progress.  It was a turning point for me.  It was the moment that I realized I had to fight to add more texture and experiences back into my life, so that I could share it with him.  To be honest, I haven't stopped crying, he knows that.  But, I have added other things into my life in addition to the crying.  Such as laughter, silliness, and love.  I have changed the channel.  The more I do this, the more proud I feel he is.

Somehow, I am here.  A year later.  I survived.

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