Nine months. That’s how long it has been. Today marks nine months from the date the world as I had known it shattered. Nine months. That’s the average human gestation period. Nine months from the creation of life until a newborn child makes its way into this world, headed on its journey of learning and exploration.
To me, these events are almost synonymous. It feels as though these past months have been a growth process for me. Often painful, this process is necessary if true healing is to occur. And so, fluctuating between resolve and fear, I have been trying to keep moving forward while not dragging the past behind me. I want (no, I need) to carry along the memories, especially those of happier times, but those happy memories can be just as likely to cause despair knowing that there will no longer be new ones made, as it is to bring sweet reminders of the love we shared. And so I have to decide which ones are worth packing, and which are better left behind.
My husband’s shirts have long since lost his scent, although I still sometimes lift the fabric to my face and deeply inhale while searching for something to wear in our closet, hoping to catch even the merest hint of him. I used to wake in the mornings with my nose pressed against his back, breathing “him” in and remarking how comforting it was. How familiar. How much like home. How I miss that.
On particularly difficult days, I will sometimes spritz myself or his pillow with what remains in the bottle of his favorite cologne, but even that is nearly gone. So I’ll try to stretch it out as long as possible. You may wonder why I don’t just buy another bottle, and I do think about it, but I just feel some sort of odd continuity, a connection, (at least in my head) in using the exact cologne he used. It’s one of those crazy thought processes that I could chalk up to what is known as “Widow’s Fog” (something I wasn’t even aware was a thing until long after I wrote this post), but in my case, it’s just my regular ol’ special kind of crazy that my husband had come to accept (and encourage). He learned early on that logic doesn’t work so well with me, and so he would push me to let my “freak flag fly”.
I’m still trying to get the ground under me more stable as it always seems as though my feet are shifting and I’m thiiiisclose to falling most of the time. I feel like I’m handling it better, but am unsure whether that’s due to healing or simply because I’ve grown accustomed to the displacement, much like an astronaut comes to accept the weightlessness of space. Only time will tell which it is for me, although maybe it doesn’t really matter as long as I can remain balanced enough to remain standing, shaky or not.
From the outside I know it appears that things are going smoothly, and for the most part they are, but there are still days, hours, moments when it still seems so surreal. As if my husband is merely taking the dog for a walk and he’ll be back any minute. I suppose that probably has something to do with the ordinariness of life. Days are still filled with laundry and dishes and dinner (most of the time) and shouldn’t things not be so darned normal with everything that has happened in the past nine months?
And then there are the days, hours, and moments when it seems all too real. When the pain and loneliness wash over me, threatening to pull me under and requiring some serious fortitude not to allow the undertow to get me for long. Those days seem anything but ordinary.
But, as it says in the Bible, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. I’ve got the weeping and mourning down, and I’m working on the laughing (and the dancing, too, although, that’s not a pretty sight).
I’ve been in this shell of grief long enough, and I really do need to break free and fly. I feel as though I’ve just been peeking out and ducking back inside the little nest I’ve created, not really wanting to face the world. Like Punxsutawney Phil, I keep seeing the shadows and wanting to retreat again. Sooner or later, though, there will be nowhere left for me to hide. Especially if I intend to make the most of whatever time I have left on this planet.
So, like the tiny, featherless mockingbird babies that emerged from their tiny, delicate casings (and which I was fortunate enough to witness on one of my walks with A), I may be weak and needy right now, but with a bit more time and loving care, I know I will make a new life again. And I’m so looking forward to taking flight soon.