Three weeks. Its’ been three weeks for everyone in the world and each and every person in this world had their three weeks play out according to their own personal current events.
My three weeks, as of last night at 11:21, was three weeks since my beloved Handsome Husband died. Three weeks since my world, and the world of our kids, changed forever. And forever. Each Sunday night for all of us, at that particular hour, for a while to come, will bring a sense of heightened adrenalin, as if we are back in Odyssey Hospice, watching this man, who changed all of our lives over 23 years ago, breathe higher and higher until there was no place for more breath to live, and his final out breath happened, and he was no more.
I’ve had so much anger in these three weeks, over big things and small things. Some of the anger was, I believe, completely justifiable, though it might more accurately be called hurt, at how some of the events around his death played out. That hurt is still there, more evident now than the anger. But mostly the anger is gone, and the crushing grief has smashed through and into, my body, my heart and my soul.
I went to a bereavement support group, I went to a Tai Chi class, I’ve made myself go out, out of this place we rented that is nothing but a place of nerve-tingling pain for me. Out into where people are and where I have no interest being. Over to Joshua Tree National Park, where Handsome Husband and I wanted to go. And yes, I even got out of the car, with the intent of hiking and maybe climbing some of the easier rock formations, thinking that maybe I’d find him there. He wasn’t there and I didn’t stay long at all. There was no meaning to being there, without him to share the experience with me, so I returned to the car, filled with both pain and numbness, and came back to this painful place where I pretty much just wander from room to room, picturing him in whatever room I happen to be. And not picturing him in a good way because we had no “good ways” from the time we arrived. There was pain, and worry, and unknowing and frustration and effort and futile attempts to allay what we thought was going on with him.
And all the while it was cancer. Oh blessed hindsight that now signals me that of course it was his cancer returned. How obviously it had returned. And the ungodly pain he was in, though he masked it well. Hindsight is an evil exercise so I shut my brain down when it creeps in. Don’t go there, don’t go there, don’t go there, I chant to myself. Because if I consider the ungodly pain he carried, it becomes an ungodly pain for me, that I carry for him, and the pain morphs into a pain that is bigger than our love and that is unsustainable for me.
Three weeks. No time at all but more than a lifetime. Every emotion that beats through my body is overwhelming now, because every emotion translates into crushing grief from what happened, how it happened, that it happened and that my world will never be the same for me without him in it.
I had Handsome Husband for 24 years. For 23 of those years we were married. He had 1 child, I had 3. We celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a renewal of vows. Our 23rd anniversary we celebrated with a slow dance at the side of the road in Death Valley as the sun set and Chicago played for us on my IPOD. He died 1 month before our 4 years on the road anniversary. For almost 4 years we sat no more than 2 feet across from one another in our Ford Escape. 2 hearts, mine and his, figuring out our new world. 2 hearts, so closely entwined in the most loving way. Not perfectly figured out, this traveling world, but always with love.
Handsome Husband loved numbers, frequently adding up the numbers of parks we visited, or military bases or hotels where we stayed, the numbers of miles we traveled. Numbers. They carry within them the history of a person’s life. They mean everything and, ultimately, they mean nothing.
October 16, 1952 (his birth date). October 18, 1990 (our marriage date). May 29, 2009 (we became Happily Homeless). September 2010 (cancer) October, 2011 (final surgery). March, 2013 (cancer returns) April 21, the Day. 11:21 pm, the Time. May 12. 11:21 pm. 3 weeks.
Inside of those numbers is his life, my life, our life together. Inside those numbers lie so many broken hearts.