I knew it would be like this, but there is no way to truly prepare for such an onslaught of emotion. As we drew closer to Handsome Husband’s mom’s home yesterday, I could feel my nerves rising to the surface of my skin. There was no way around the doing of this. My first time back to his mom’s home without him, my first time seeing his mom and he isn’t here. My first, my first, my first of oh so much.
I walked in the door and she hugged me and I fell apart. My heart broke and shattered and exploded. Too much. Bringing the suitcases into the room he and I always used. Seeing our bed that we brought over from storage to use since we were here so often. Seeing the chair he sat in while in the living room. Greeting the friends of his mom’s from down the street who would always come to see us and catch up on our travels for a few minutes. And who knew that sitting down at the table for supper would require such a feat of strength? I stood by the chair I always sat in for a few minutes, bracing myself to sit down and face his empty chair across the table. Except not empty because his sister was sitting there. I sat down; the pain of looking up and seeing where he should be-too much.
I went over to the storage unit briefly, just to get an idea of things. A fucking horror story. His suit in its’ protective cover, hangs from a post. He kept it there, neatly hung, so that it would be ready for the day he wore it to his mom’s funeral. His dress shoes rested underneath. The detritus of our lives lies in that storage unit. Since we packed it in there 4 years ago, we’ve gone through each time we’re here to rid ourselves of more and I was always happy to do that. This time I need to sort through his things and determine what will be given to each of the kids, what will be kept until I’m ready to not have it any more, what will be donated to Goodwill. Nothing but pain there now.
He died yesterday. Or minutes ago. That’s what it feels like. In actuality, he died 91 days ago. My eyes are permanently swollen red and puffy. Weights of undetermined heft sit on my chest. I can’t tell the difference, honestly, between that weight and the shrieking, soul-shuddering pain of grief that resides there. Death, that figure with the long robes and the scythe, is pick-axing at me non-stop, trying to kill me along with him. And yes, I wonder how Death doesn’t find me and delete me also. How can a body sustain the constancy of this? I know that Grief can kill. Broken-heart syndrome is a viable, recognized cause of death. (Except that broken-heart sounds so gentle. Mine is much more a violent, rending, shredding, piercing, numerous other words my brain won’t translate, feeling.)
I’m in touch with my counselor, my kids, my friends. I’m talking this out. I’m staying hydrated. I’m doing all the fucking stuff that must be done so that I don’t die in this minute. Presumably all of that is keeping me from either dying or going insane. This now, here in Indiana, is what the next few months are going to be as I see people for the first time since Handsome Husband’s death. My grief and their grief. How can it be otherwise? He is grieved as he was loved. I know that and I’m just digging in as best I can, using whatever tool comes to mind to get through it in as healthy a way as possible. Nobody can do this for me, just as I can’t do it for anyone else.
Grief isn’t pretty. I’m not standing here, delicately dabbing at my eyes with a hanky. My nerves are tingling, my eyes are red and puffy, my nose running, my hands shaking, body and mind already exhausted. Yes, I sleep, but I wake with no rested-ness. The adrenaline is running high. Fight or flight-it’s nature’s response to this stimuli.
The remedy for this? His arms around me, his voice telling me it’s going to be alright. That I’m going to live through this. I’m going to survive this. That’s what he would tell me. Except that he isn’t here to tell me that. And he doesn’t know this terrain. But I’d believe him because I love him.
A bloody explosion happened to my insides when Handsome Husband died. Blood and gore, body parts and shreds of flesh were flung about. Poisonous smoke chokes. This is my grief. Not in an oh I feel sorry for myself way. Just in a simple acknowledging way. If you want to be with me, please don a safety mask and be prepared for the devastation. I understand that the reality of it may be too much for some and I hold no judgement for that. The exit is to your right.
Me? I need to sift through the ruins to see what, if anything, is salvageable.