It is commonly understood, or acknowledged, that there is time and possibility for goodbyes when a person is terminally ill, as opposed to when there is a sudden death.
I used to believe that.
And, yes, the words might be whispered from one to the other on a deathbed, or they might be breathed into the ears of the one you love as your hands clasp, but they stumble from lips made numb from holding back horror and pain and devastation, and carry no real understanding of the forever-ness of those 7 simple letters. After all, how can any of us know what the word forever means until we live it in the after days of death?
Chuck and I had many conversations over the years about our deaths and what we wished for the one left behind. Those conversations continued in hospice before cancer became what it did and did what it did to his body. Our hands held tightly together, our eyes speaking words when there were no words. He said to me I’ll miss you. I’ll miss us. I don’t remember whether I actually, at any point, said the word goodbye to him. There is so much I don’t remember of that time. Other than the horror of it.
Which is why, now, I struggle with the idea that he will, as the months and years meld one into another, become a memory to me. At what point will I only be able to speak of him as a distant memory, a man I was married to, remembering with hazy memory, those 24 years of happiness we shared?
That was the topic of my therapy today, and it continued as I underwent another round of EMDR. It’s funny, in an interesting way, how EMDR works. My therapist really doesn’t say much, just taps, then asks me what is happening in my thinking and either asks me to expand on it, or says Let’s go with that. Think of that and I’ll tap…and from that, more often than not, comes stark, cutting, pain as my mind delves more deeply into words and concepts, and before you know it, tears are streaming down my face, and sobs wracking my body.
Today…after today’s session, I feel just as raw as I did right after Chuck died. Last week I dealt with residual guilt stemming from his time in hospice. And today I realized that I haven’t even fucking accepted that he’s gone. You know, in that forever way. Of course my brain knows he’s gone, and my body knows, and my heart knows because it’s been sliced and diced and thrown down on the floor and shredded, every day since he died.
And yet, a huge part of me is disbelieving. It’s as if someone is speaking to me in a foreign language, saying Chuck is dead. He’s dead. Forever. Not coming back. And I’m looking at them wondering what the hell they’re talking about. It’s as if I’m underwater and someone is using sign language to say the same thing and I can’t hear them. The very thought of it is so fucking bizarre, even while I know it to be true. He’s dead. He’s gone.
I have to let him go. Today I realized that. I have to say goodbye. And every part of me…every part of me that has any feeling in it, fights that. I can’t say goodbye. Because if I do, what do I have left? I can barely remember our life together; all that we’d been together, all that we were to each other, the energy that passed back and forth between us…it vaporized the night he died and it was as if he’d only been a figment of my imagination. If I can barely remember our together time, and I let go of what I do remember of him, then what do I have?
In one of the tapping moments, I sensed him saying to me please, and I knew what he meant was, if not to help yourself, then for my sake, because you are in too much pain and it hurts me to see you like this.
He wants me to let him go. He wants me to say goodbye. And that…that makes me want to shriek in pain and vomit up everything I’ve ever eaten.
I’ll do it. I don’t know how, and I don’t want to, but I will.
At one and the same time, I picture myself adrift in the Universe, on a full-sailed galleon, with nothing but shimmery night sky around me, loaded with sparkly stars. And I picture myself with feet planted firmly on the ground, face into the wind. I don’t know which is real. Both, maybe, for right now.
How do I let go of this man who loved me so much, who made my world so safe, who showed me what real love is, who filled me with passion for life and for him?
I am curled into myself tonight~