My apologies for my intermittent postings. It seems that, despite my best intentions, I am unable to post on any type of schedule. Sometimes the words just flow out of me and I can’t get my blog written fast enough; other times, it seems too much like work and that I’ve said everything I want to say too many times before. In any case, it’s best not to force anything (literally and figuratively) and I’ve learned to just allow whatever time and (mental) space I need.
Losing my husband has been difficult (which is obviously quite an understatement) and I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that he’s not coming back. I do believe that he will always be here with me in some form, and I also believe we will be reunited one day, but for now, the life we shared is gone.
No matter how many times I may feel him near me, no matter the number of occasions I believe he is just outside my periphery, and no matter how often I think of something I need to tell him before the realization hits that I can’t, my life has been forever changed and there’s not a thing I can do about it.
There are so many analogies that I’ve made about what living with grief feels like – adrift, repetitious, and even (weirdly) raw fish – but another comparison has been roiling around my brain for awhile now – frozen hollow.
The shock of my husband’s heart attack and subsequent passing left me numb. There were days and weeks afterwards where I felt a shell of my former self, lacking any substance whatsoever, merely fog or smoke. I still feel that way a great deal of the time, as if there is just an empty cavity where my heart once used to be. At the same time, I feel as though I’ve been frozen, unable to move quickly (or sometimes at all), and just going through the motions as best I can.
Essentially, I am an emotional Tin Man, waiting for my very own Dorothy and Scarecrow to come skipping up and get me moving again so I can sing about my missing heart. Except in this case, there is no wizard to give me a sawdust sack to replace it, even though that is precisely what it feels like – dry, dusty and artificial, incapable of generating any true emotions. And my friends cannot rush the process. They can only support and encourage; their oil cans are useless in this instance.
My emotional and physical state are both frozen and stiff. The other morning, I had a burst of energy while visiting my oldest daughter and I ran/skipped down her stairs. As I was doing so – I mean, mid-step right in the middle of staircase – it occurred to me how awkward and strange it felt, despite that being a fairly normal thing to do “before”. It stopped me in my tracks.
That’s how I divide time these days – Before and After. It’s as if there was a cataclysmic event that rocked the world and life as we knew it changed forever. That is precisely what happened, of course, but on a much smaller scale. Those affected are a relatively compact group of people by world cataclysm standards, yet we are no less affected.
So in many ways, I do feel as though I’m thawing out and becoming more fluid and active, yet the movements are halted and stiff and almost unsettling. There’s a fair amount of guilt involved being the one left behind that causes me to not feel quite right for having a good moment. Although logically I know this is not healthy thinking, the thoughts arise anyway.
A was always so concerned about us, really taking enjoyment in our pleasure, and I know he would never want us to stop living, but on difficult days like today, I want nothing more than to merely quit. I’m not speaking of suicide, and am not considering ending my life, so please don’t be concerned. It’s more passive than that. Much like Dorothy, I am just so tired and simply want to lie down in a field of poppies and just stop. I feel as though my world ended on that day in mid-April and it somehow seems wrong that I should still be moving and talking and living. I know this empty, hollow feeling will pass, even if only temporarily for now, until some day I’ll notice that the stiffness has eased and I feel less guilt at being able to move freely.
I heard something recently that defined the difference between pain and suffering. The pain will always be there, it has become a part of who I am. But suffering is a choice. It will be up to me to learn to experience the pain but not cling to it. I’m trying to remember that, when those moments strike out of the blue. For now, I’m simply frozen hollow and trying to remember that my heart has been here all along.
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