I’ll be honest here – I haven’t done much reading up on grief. This is typical for me, choosing to forge ahead into something new blindly, not wanting to be “influenced” by so-called experts who talk about the “right” way or even what is considered “normal”. Naturally, I’ve heard about the 5 steps of grief, or 7, or whatever it is these days, and I have a general idea of what these steps are supposed to include, but I tend to be neurotic at times and if I believed I’m supposed to feel a certain way at a certain time and don’t, it will simply stress me out thinking I’m strange.
So, whether it’s common or not, I’m not sure, but lately my kids and I have been going through a phase where we sort of forget my husband is gone. At least temporarily. Something share-worthy happens in our lives and our first instinct is to pick up the phone to call or text him and tell him about it. He was such a major part of all our lives and involved in the day to day that it had become a habit to simply discuss things with him – humorous, interesting, thought-provoking, anger-inducing – it didn’t matter what the topic, we could have lengthy conversations about whatever it was.
I’m inclined to think this is quite normal. We’ve gotten past the numbness and initial shock, our lives are somewhat going back to normal (whatever that is – or maybe it’s simply the new normal, a strange new normal) with jobs and errands and everyday life, and we all still feel his presence here. So it’s natural to want to continue to share our little stories the way we always have.
After that initial thought, however, reality comes crashing down, almost as though someone dashes cold water on us. We remember that we will never hear his booming laugh again. He and our son won’t have bombastic discussions about sports or politics or “the matrix”. He won’t talk to our younger daughter about history or aliens. He won’t give our older daughter advice about work and life. He won’t recount stories of his own childhood with the kids, telling them the good, the bad and the really, really ugly.
We won’t have date nights where we talk about our children and future grandchildren, our past and our future, our hopes and dreams, and simply enjoy each others’ unique viewpoint. I will never again find him in the garage with a cloth and bottle of car cleaner wiping down the car and checking the tires before my commute in to work, and then leaning in the window as I’m leaving to say “I wish I could come with you today. I just want to be with you.” It was almost as if on some level he knew his time here on earth was limited and he didn’t want to waste one minute apart.
But it’s honestly so strange – I almost feel as if I’m waiting for him to return, and I know the kids feel the same. As if he has merely taken the dog for a walk or gone on a short trip and will come back home soon. There are signs of him everywhere – from the random cardinals that appear to the 22s to a string of songs on the radio that seem to tell a story, I believe he communicates with us on a regular basis.
Although there is an emptiness and a heartache that is sometimes so deep it’s almost a physical thing, I still feel his presence often. At times, it almost feels as if he is right there with me. I close my eyes and can feel a vibration of sorts; I wonder if this feeling will ever dissipate. Would I want it to?
My gut instinct says “no”. Even though I believe some day this pain will become less agonizing (at least I hope it does), I never want to lose the sense of comfort I’ve been experiencing when I believe he is with me. He has always been my protector, and from what I’ve seen (and felt), he still takes the job very seriously.
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