I’ve been stuck in a bit of a weird place this last week or so (even stranger than the place I’ve been in for nearly the past year). You see, the one year mark is looming, not only for A’s passing in mid-April, but also for his heart attack at the beginning of the month.
Although it is most often used in the case of those who have suffered through a long illness, recently the term “anticipatory grief period” has been used to explain how those who have lost someone feel when the anniversary of their death is ahead. It seems a fitting phrase, because I’m anticipating (and preparing for) the pain.
For those of you who were with me during that time, who supported me in any way you could, you probably remember what a wreck I was. I was walking through those two weeks shell-shocked, sleep deprived, and utterly lost. The boy I fell in love with who became the man I chose to spend my life with, the other half to our whole, was lying in a hospital bed literally fighting for his life.
I can feel the memories of those days starting to seep in, despite the fact that I have been trying to focus on the 32 years prior, knowing that those years are more significant to who he was, and who we were. In some ways, it’s as if I’m silently pleading for time to stand still so I don’t have to mentally go back to that time. I find myself going through the motions of life again and feel helpless to stop it. I’m on a downward slope to darkness, and I want to simply check out for the next few weeks.
I won’t do that. I can’t do that, as it would simply send me backwards after all the progress I (believe I) have made. So, as difficult as it seems, as daunting a task as it might be, I am going to meet it head on, knowing that it is necessary.
Knowing it is crucial doesn’t change my hesitation – no… my resistance – to opening myself up to those dark times again. But I’ll do it anyway. A deserves that from me.
The kids and I have made plans to spend that day together, remembering him in a way we believe he would appreciate (and even enjoy, if that’s possible) and my daughter has already expressed an interest in watching the videos we made when he was making progress towards recovery. None of us have been able to watch them since the day his heart stopped beating. It’s a reminder that we thought we had turned the worst corner, and that he was going to pull through. We all knew what a fighter he was, and it seemed as if he was going to defy the odds.
That’s probably what makes this hurt even more than it “should”… we had gotten to a point where he was doing better. At least that’s what we thought. He was able to communicate with us through hand gestures. He was smiling, laughing, making jokes (as best he could with the breathing tube), waving, and I even have a fond memory of a giant wink and a thumbs up when he was asked if he knew who I was. Even in his heavily medicated state, he showed us all that he loved us. I like to think that it was his one last gift so that there was no doubt how he felt about us all.
In any case, although I’m trying to stiffen my spine to be brave enough to get through these next few weeks, I’m also preparing myself for the likely event that it will be pretty emotionally rough on us all.
If you see me and think I’m acting strange, you’re probably right. If you notice tears in my eyes or a vacant stare, you’ll know why. Just try to bear with me and know I’m probably not in my right mind. I should go back to “normal” by the end of April, but for now, it’s getting to be a struggle the way it was in the early stages, and I may need you all to see me through it again.
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