I had a discussion earlier this week with a friend. She’s not a close friend, as much through logistics as anything else, I suppose, since we live more than 1200 miles away from one another and run in mostly different circles. When we have gotten together in the past, mainly at larger gatherings, I have certainly found her smart, funny, and full of life.
But I had reached out simply to let her know someone was thinking of her. You see, she lost her husband after a long illness shortly after my husband’s Celebration of Life service. He, too, was much too young; A and I had gone to school with him many years ago. In fact, one of the last times I had seen T in person (before his diagnosis), he reminded me how he used to enjoy sitting behind me in Algebra class and pulling my hair simply because he knew it drove me crazy. (I had blocked out that memory, but it came back with his reminder. Teenage boys are pains. But I digress…)
They, too, were a very close couple and she spent (literally) years at his side while he valiantly fought (literally) for his life. I had watched what I am sure was a mere fragment of his fight through Facebook and I marveled at how strong he was, how strong she was by his side, and how devoted to one another and their children they were. Over time, I often thought “what would I do?” and “I’m not sure I could handle it”.
When my husband had his heart attack and I spent the next two weeks (just two weeks) by his side, I was physically exhausted, mentally drained, and emotionally spent. I cannot even fathom what type of strength it took to battle on for years. And always with a smile on their faces. Both of them.
When I reached out to her, she mentioned that she has been following my blog and stated that my “authenticity is powerful”. I thanked her for the compliment, but replied that sometimes I feel this is nothing more than a daily mantra of “I miss him. I’m lonely. This sucks.”
I may spin it in many different ways, but the bottom line is that I hate his absence. I constantly feel the void his passing left. In so many ways, in so many places, at so many times. Just a giant, empty vacuum where our life together used to be. I absolutely hate it, and it seems that’s all I really say. And how many times can people hear me complain that I want my old life back before they simply stop listening?
She then responded with a simple, yet profound statement – “It’s not repetitious, it’s reality, and some days relentless.” Relentless reality. That sums it up perfectly. Like the ocean, it doesn’t stop. Some days, the water is calm, clear and I find solace there. Other days, the waves crash to shore, one after the other, never allowing me to regain my balance completely before pummeling me again and again.
Those are the days where my reality is so relentless, it’s all I can do to keep my head above water and stay afloat. That’s where my friends and family come in. Every time I hear that my kids and I have been on someone’s mind, and every time I get a word of encouragement through a random text, email or Facebook message, or every time someone makes it a point to say simply “I’m here for you”, it’s like another lifeline thrown out that allows me to catch a breath for a moment before having to get out there and tread water once more.
So thank you to all my lifelines. You are more important than you can imagine. If I must face this relentless reality, it’s good to know that I’ve got plenty of support willing to face it alongside me. Because staying afloat is so very hard when it would be so much easier to simply drown.
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