This grief. How grief will express itself in the human mind and body. It isn’t just a matter of the heart and the unmeasurable soul. There is brain activity involved. The physical body is involved.
It isn’t as easy as getting over it. Moving on with it. The physical bio-rhythms ebb and flow, dipping and flowing in the dance of life. If it were as easy as a mindful decision, I’ve no doubt anyone going through this would stop it short.
It also isn’t a matter of not feeling blessed, not feeling grateful for having had your loved one in your life. It isn’t a matter of trying to remember the good times. It is, in fact, the remembrance of those good times, the feeling of being blessed, that bring the shattering pain because it brings too, the sure knowledge that those times are as gone as your loved one.
Handsome Husband and I were so blessed. We didn’t take one another for granted, even before his first cancer. Each day we woke up together was a day to be grateful and feel blessed. That’s why we touched so often, why we held hands, why we danced and soaked in each and every moment with each other. We loved passionately because we knew life didn’t promise us one more day. We talked about things that mattered, in the midst of the minutiae of life and raising kids and maintaining our house and jobs. In the years he and I full-timed on the road, we talked about after, about what we would each want for the other. We talked about what we wanted for our memorial services, about how we wanted to be remembered. We spoke as deeply as we knew about what it would be like for the one left behind.
And, no, we could not know what the reality of being left behind felt like. We each agreed that we’d like the other to find another love while agreeing that it would be an unlikely possibility that we’d find someone not the same but someone who could be held in the same high esteem. I teased him that he’d have women all over him if I were to die first and he’d tell me quite seriously that he couldn’t imagine another woman for himself.
From the day I met him, Handsome Husband was the only man for me. The first time I saw him in his Air Force dress blues, I almost swooned on the street, he was so gorgeous. And then I saw him in his BDU’s and notched that up even higher. As the years passed, as happens with so many men, he grew even more handsome. He gained confidence and made my blood tingle whenever he was around. My nerves would jump to the top of my skin and I’d feel electric. Yes, I was head over heels in love with him. His humor made me roll my eyes, he was obsessive about things but he knew things I didn’t know and I loved his mind and its’ workings. He had a twinkle in his eyes, and a smile in his eyes, whenever he gazed at me, or whenever his eye caught mine. He was a romantic through and through. He was charming and could talk to women and women in turn, were charmed by him. Who wouldn’t be?
He’s dead now. The emptiness beside me is complete. I study pictures of us over our years together and thank him for bringing love into my life and my heart breaks that this most beautiful time of my life is done.
Here is grief: Most days it’s all I can do to keep my feet right where they are instead of letting them run in all directions, any direction, carrying me screaming into nothingness. On any day the pain of grief makes me want to tear out my hair and shriek at the unendingness of this, my life without him. It makes no impression on me that I’ll see him again someday, if indeed that happens. I’m only in the here and now. I don’t dare think of 2 hours from now, never mind “someday”. That word isn’t even in my lexicon.
This grief, this pain that isn’t just mine but belongs to so many. This grief experience that has been felt by women around the world since time began. This unbearable, unimaginable, fucking, devastating, loneliness of not having him with me, talking to me, touching me, being with me.
I lean over the sink and want to throw up with the actual physical pain that shudders my insides and tears them up and hitches my breathing and tears through my skull in a pulse beat that can be counted as I remind myself over and over and fucking over again: he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone. And the pain shrieks up inside of me.