My Husband is Dead and Your Husband is Dead. Let’s Be Friends!

They say that one of the strongest bonds between two people is created through grief. This is very true. It’s also a lie.

A couple of years ago, I was hanging out with a good friend of mine who happens to be a black guy. It was awhile ago but I’ll never forget what happened, because it was so absurd. We were in the city, when suddenly an acquaintance of his approached us and they began talking. This was their conversation:

Dumb White Guy: Hey man, how ya doin, what’s up?

Black Friend: Nothin man, what’s up with you?

Dumb White Guy: Oh, Im just gettin’ back from a rehearsal for this play Im doin’ in the Bronx with this really cool director. Actually you probably know him. His name’s Tyrone?

Black Friend: Why would I know him?

Dumb White Guy: (stumbling) Oh, well, you know, cuz you both live in the Bronx and stuff, so I just thought …

Black Friend: You thought that because we both live in the same burough, and because I’m black and he’s black, that we must know each other? He is black, right? I don’t know of any white dudes named Tyrone …

Dumb White Guy: Well yeah, he’s black, but, that’s not why … I just thought … I mean … I gotta go catch a train, so … umm … ok bye …

Black Friend: (yelling out as dumb white guy sprints away in horror) Say hi to my buddy TYRONE for me!

As my friend and I both busted out laughing, I said to him: “Well that was awkward!” He responded with: “Nah. That was fun.”

 Now that I have the unfortunate title of “widow” since last year at age 39, I have perhaps the tiniest fraction of an idea as to how my friend may have felt that evening. People assume things. People who do not know any better or who don’t take the time to be aware of others around them and the universe – actually think that all black people must know one another, or that all people with kids hang out together, or that all young widowed people enjoy each other’s company, simply because they have both lost their loved one. I lost count of how many times people have said to me over the past 15 months: “Oh, you should really talk to this girl Trish. She is about your age, and she lost her husband too.” Fantastic! Maybe she can come over and we can have a “sister-widows” slumber-party, do each other’s hair, watch Sex and the City, and then talk about our dead husbands and sob on each other’s shoulder. As usual, most people mean well, but if they only knew what it’s really like …  

The truth is, it is incredibly difficult and rare to fully connect and bond with another human being. Having something gigantic in common like grief is a wonderful start, but it only provides a jumping off point. Where you go from there could be anywhere, or nowhere at all. Having death and pain in common by no means guarantees that you will bond, or even like one another, for that matter. People are still people. Trish may have lost her husband like me, but that doesn’t mean she’s a wonderful person or somebody that I care to be around. She could be an asshole for all I know. Or a serial killer. Or a Republican. (I’m only kidding. Sort of.) It’s like in my favorite romantic-comedy ever, When Harry Met Sally. There’s a great scene where best friends Harry and Sally set each other up with their individual single friends, and the four of them all go out together. Harry wants his friend Jess to fall for Sally, and Sally wants her friend Marie to fall for Harry, but instead, Jess and Marie fall for each other:

Marie: Restaurants are to people in the 80’s what theatres were to people in the 60’s. I read that in a magazine.
Jess: I wrote that.
Marie: Get out of here.
Jess: I did.
Marie: Where did I read that?
Jess: The New York Times.
(pause) 
Harry: Sally writes for the New York Times  …
(awkward silence.)
 
So, because Sally and Jess are both writers and they both wrote for the same magazine at one point, they should logically bond with one another and instantly connect, right? Wrong. You are drawn to who you are drawn to. You connect with whomever you connect with. I may be in a room filled with other widowed people in a support group environment, and I could still feel as alone as ever. There could be 20 widowed folk at an event, and I may only feel like I could be true friends with one or two of them. Or none of them. Or maybe the general atmosphere just isn’t my thing. It’s either too religion-based, or too structured; to the point where it feels like we are at some sort of weird Grief Summer Camp; making oragami figurines out of our feelings, or expressing survivor’s guilt through interpretive dance. It is very difficult to find a place where you fit in, even amongst the other misfits. It’s just hard.
 
A few months after my husband died, I decided to attend a “Widow Event.” This was not a support group exactly, but a group of other widowed people who met up once a month or so and held social activities. When you lose your world and everything you know in an instant, you long for comfort and friendship from somebody else who truly understands what you are going through. You will do just about anything to find this kind of support, because widowhood is incredibly lonely. And when it happens to you at age 39, none of your friends are going through it. In fact, most of your friends are just beginning their lives or in the midst of their love-story. There are weddings, new homes, babies, kids, families, holidays, vacations, retirement parties, showers, and just the everyday stuff of marriage and people who are happy and in love. Sometimes you feel like you can’t breathe another second, because you are suffocating and choking on everyone else’s joy and hopeful futures. Meanwhile, your past, present, and future have just disappeared, and you feel like nothing will ever be right ever again. So you end up in the backroom of a Diner, wearing a nametag sticker and sitting next to a bunch of women and one random guy that look like the cast of Cocoon. How the hell did I get here? How did this become my life? And why on earth is this group called “Young Widows”, when I am clearly the youngest one here by 20 years minimum?
 

Cast of “Cocoon”, or what the Widow Groups look like …

 
It took me 19 seconds to realize that this was not the place where I would feel at home. But I was there, so I remained. Sitting down next to a woman who had to be at least 70, I tried to smile and say hello. She looked at me, bitter and old and pissed at life, and asked: “How long has it been for you, dear?” “He died 3 months ago,” I said to her softly. “Three months? Three months?”, she barked madly. “Oh honey! I hate to burst your bubble, but things are going to get so much worse!” Burst my bubble? My bubble? Who said I had a bubble? And who says that to someone?
 
But she was right. Things did get worse. Well, at least, that evening, in that horrible room, they did. Next up, a man who had written a book came in and gave all the widowed people a condescending presentation about life and stress and how difficult it was for him and his family to pack up and move across the country when he got a new job. He stood there and acted as if he could possibly understand our level of pain, because he had experienced moving. Did I mention that when he moved, he did so with his wife and kids, who are all still alive and well, and not dead???  After the “author” was finished with his drivel, we sat and ate and talked. Well, everyone else talked. I sort of observed the weirdness that was taking place around me. It was like a contest to decide who has more pain. Everyone had to “one up” the person next to them. Like a death competition. “My Jimmy was the most wonderful man in the world. He suffered for 2 long years with the cancer before he died.” Then someone else would chime in: “Well my Arthur made me tea every morning for 45 years. He was bed-ridden for 3 years, 9 months, and 2 days.” I sat there in silence. How is this helpful? What is the point of this? It was goddamn depressing. Then, to top off this wonderful evening, some woman had a table where she was selling handmade jewelry. What on earth that had to do with anything, I will never know. Seriously? Did I come to a Widow Event Night or a Sales Pitch Party? Now again, because we are all different, I am sure this type of social gathering must be helpful for some people out there, but I am not one of them. When I got in my car a couple hours later, I sat in it and just cried. Cried because I saw those sad people in there, and I saw my possible future. Cried because no matter what, one thing was certain. I did not want to grow up to be them. I drove away as fast as possible and never turned back.
 
My next attempt at bonding with other widowed people didn’t go much smoother. This one was a support group, and the people were very nice. Once again, though, most of them were a lot older than me, and although everyone’s pain and loss is equally valid, the issues and emotions you deal with after losing your spouse at age 25 or 39, are very different from the ones you deal with at age 60 0r 75. They just are. It’s very hard for them to relate to me, and me to relate to them. So there I sat once again with people who could be my grandmother, and listened. The conversation turned spiritual. Then it just turned weird. A woman was describing, in graphic detail, how her dead husband “came to her” at night and wanted to have sex with her. She then went on to instruct everyone else how they, too, could have sex with their own dead partners. Nobody except me seemed disturbed by this topic, so I didn’t move or breathe. As she began to use hand movements as part of this description, I cringed in my seat and pretended I was somewhere less awful, like hell. I began singing songs to myself inside my head in a feeble attempt to drown out the horrific images she was forcing onto me. When she started using phrases such as: “I could feel his very essence inside me”, it was all I could do to stop myself from busting out laughing right in her face. This was hilarious and insane to me on so many levels. Why on earth would I want to discuss the sex life my husband and I had with a room full of people I just met? Actually, I dont want to discuss it with anyone at all. I share a lot of personal information with the world through my writing. But that? That is between us. Me and him. Especially now. Plus, I could literally hear my husband’s voice in my ear; laughing as he warned: “Run for your life, Boo! Get the hell outta there! These people are NUTS!” Nuts, or just not my thing. Either way, It’s safe to say I did not go back there either.
 

Ghost Sex

 
Right now, I am in a group that feels like a good fit for me. Most of the people there are around my age, and I can relate to a lot of them. They also seem very supportive and kind. I also belong to 5 or 6 different private online Widowed Groups on Facebook. These are where people who have lost partners/spouses from all over the country and the world, can post their thoughts, fears, emotions, anytime – day or night, and there is always someone who is wide awake and willing to listen. I have exchanged cell numbers with quite a few of these new friends that Ive connected with, and we all help each other through this muddy hell that is now our life. These relationships with other widowed people are very unique. It is not lost on me the irony that I wouldnt even know these people, if my husband were not dead. You lose the love of your life, and you gain this bizarre, amazing, dysfunctional new family. And every one of them understands that we would all much rather have our loved one back, than to have each other. It’s the family nobody wants to be a part of. And to say it’s complicated in these group environments would be the understatement of life.
 
You have these online rooms or real life rooms, filled with people who are all in pain, hurting, lost, and searching for answers. In each other and by hearing each others stories, we find that we are not alone. And yet … we are. Each of us wants so badly to find help, to find that connection, that other person who truly gets it and understands us, yet that person, for all of us, is gone. The one person that we would each turn to and say: “Oh My God! You would not believe what happened! You died, and now I’m sitting in the basement of a church telling my life story to all these random people that I just met 10 minutes ago!” – is no longer there for us to tell these things to, to share the tiny snippets of life that seem insignificant to everyone else. So instead, we tell anyone who will hear us. We tell those that are also going through it and living it, and it’s not the same as talking to our soulmate, but it’s something. And something is better than nothing.
 
I could have never predicted whats happening right now in my life. Spending my time with counselors, support groups, and typing til all hours of the night in private Group Rooms about the pain. Trying to find a light in all this darkness. Looking for a way out, yet knowing there is no such thing. Sending texts and making phone calls at 3am to others who feel the same way I do – wide awake, alone, and missing their love. Developing friendships with men and women I’ve never even met, who are miles and states away. Creating something new out of something lost. Honoring our loved ones together. It helps to talk about them, to keep them alive. It hurts too. Everything hurts, but some things help while they hurt.
 
I will go back to what I said at the beginning. It is difficult to find that connection, that bond, with another person. Everything hurts, but some things help while they hurt. Like being with other widowed people. There are so many emotions. Sometimes we get jealous of each other. We don’t speak about it, but it’s there and it’s real. I’m jealous of anyone who got to be with their spouse for longer than I did. I’m jealous of the ones who have children. I’m jealous of the ones who got to say goodbye. Good Morning. I love you. Something. Someone out there is jealous or envious of me for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s too much, too painful to listen to other people’s stories of death and grief. Other times, it helps. Sometimes I want to ask another widowed friend all about their late husband or wife, and other times I need to focus on me. I love these people, and I hate that I need to love them. I depend on them, and I don’t want to. I form bonds with them, and I fear they, too, will go away in a flash, just like my husband did. I fear getting too close, and I fear being alone. I am afraid of always being afraid.
 
 
So, to my new Widowed brothers and sisters, I say this  – I love you. And I hate that I have to love you. I hate that we have crossed paths. I hate that any other person on earth is going through this, and I’m thankful that so many other people are going through this. In my story, is your story. In your story, is my story. Everyone just wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be validated. What we want more than anything when we lose the one we love, is for someone to listen, and really hear us. For someone to look at us and say: I understand your pain. Your individual, unique pain. And yet, because it is YOUR pain, I have no idea what you are going through, I have no idea how you feel, and I can never truly understand it at all.
 
Nobody can ever know another’s pain. Not completely. But we connect with those who come the closest. Since my husband’s death, I have become more aware. More awake. I feel pain and hurt on a bigger level. When a friend or a stranger loses someone they love, I feel it. I cry for them, because I know what they are about to go through, the hell they are about to face. Death is the one thing we all have in common. We will all die, and we will all lose the people we love. We will all grieve. Together, yet always alone.
 
So to everyone out there who has lost something: a husband or a wife, a best friend, your dad, your brother, your baby, a grandmother, a boyfriend, your pet, your ability to have a child, the dreams you had for your future, a career, your mother, your sister, your will to live, your coach or mentor, your marriage, a teacher, your son or your daughter, your niece, your nephew, your uncle, your aunt, your purpose, your favorite cousin, your first love, your hero, your youth, your legs, your health, your heart ….
 
Please know this: I hear you. I hear your hurt and I hear your pain and I hear your heart, and it’s valid and it’s real and it’s terrifying.
 
Please know that I understand. And that I could never truly understand.
 
Please know that I know exactly how you feel. And that I don’t have a clue how you feel. Nobody does.
 
I hope that some of these things can help you, and give you just a little bit of comfort while you hurt. Because everything hurts. But some things help while they hurt.

 

Until Forever …

I do not feel my husband’s presence every minute of every day. Not even close. But when his energy is here with me, I know it immediately.

Sometimes it is something huge, and other times it’s really tiny – like a pindrop. But it’s happening, and there is no questioning it. Unless you are me, of course.

 I question everything. I’m suspicious by nature, and even after feeling my husband come to me several times in the 15 months since his death, both while awake and while asleep, I still try and justify it or try to reason with it and make logical sense of it. I still feel like someone is pulling the wool over my eyes each and every time it happens. But my husband, in his typical way, refuses to give up on me. He keeps coming back, and there is nothing more powerful or emotional or heart-poundingly incredible, than receiving just a few moments in time with the one that you lost. To feel them, to hear them, to touch them again – it is like nothing else in the world. It is magic.

Last night was magic. It started as a laugh. I heard him laugh, just as if he were sitting here beside me. Then he said words to me, and suddenly I was typing to my friend John what my husband wanted me to say. I was like his secretary. It was bizarre. They were his words, and I was typing them. And I saw and felt him standing behind me, looking over my shoulder as I typed and laughing his big laugh, just like he always used to do in real life.

I was on Facebook late at night, bored and goofing around. A funny status update I had posted about people who always threaten to leave the country if so-and-so becomes President, had somehow turned into a free-for-all random discussion between a few of us that were up late and dazed. John and I were talking about the playoffs, and he typed something about how the Orioles would win against the Yankees, and then win the World Series. Just then, in that instant, I heard Don’s laugh. It was more of a cackle really. It was him laughing at his friend John for saying such a thing, and just like that, his energy was in the room with me. It was strong. He wanted to be there to bust on John, our Mets fan friend who hates the Yankees, just like old times.

After he laughed, I heard him say to me: “The Orioles? Oh please! Make him feel bad, Boo. Ask him how he can root against his dead friend’s favorite team and still sleep at night.” I laughed out loud as I typed my husband’s sick and twisted humor into the Facebook thread. He was here stronger than ever now, and he kept laughing and cheering me on during this entire exchange:

John Joseph Cina O’s will win the World Series.
Kelley Lynn you know Johnycakes, the least you could do is root for your dead friend’s favorite team. Yup. I went there.
John Joseph Cina that’s cold blooded.
Kelley Lynn No, whats cold-blooded is you rooting for the Orioles over the Yankees – your friend’s beloved team. Your friend who is dead. lol.
John Joseph Cina Hard to turn off 35 years of Yankee dislike.
Kelley Lynn I heard Don laughing in my head ,telling me to make you feel guilty and fuck with you lol.
Kelley Lynn Is it hard to turn off Yankee dislike? Its hard when your husband randomly dies too. (Sniff sniff….)
Kelley Lynn You have no soul, Cina.
John Joseph Cina I’m all soul, baby.
John Joseph Cina He’s still laughing at me. And it still hurts.
 
 
I went to bed last night with a pounding headache. And, like often happens, I had trouble falling asleep. Thinking about Don. Missing him deeply. Questioning the validity of just feeling his presence earlier in the evening. Filling my head up with endless thoughts about life and death and love. At some point, I did fall asleep, and Don came back to me again in my sleep. Some would call it a dream. Some would say it’s more than that. I will never know for sure how to define these things, I can only tell you what I felt, and what happened. This is the dream that transpired:
 
I’m feeling lonely and alone, which are two seperate things, so I decide to go see a movie and get out of the apartment for awhile. I walk down the streets of my new neighborhood in Forest Hills to the theatre. It is fall. It is crisp. The air and the avenues are filled with life and energy and couples walking hand in hand. They are happy and laughing and oblivious that it could all be taken away for no reason. I want to murder each and every one of them. There are people everywhere. All around me.
 
 I walk up to the ticket booth and say: “One ticket please for a movie.” I actually say that in the dream. One ticket please for a movie. No idea what movie I’m about to see in my land of slumber. I guess it’s not important. Suddenly, to the right of me, there is a voice. It is my husband. He pulls out his wallet and says to the ticket guy: “Make that two tickets for a movie. Can I sit with you, Boo?”
 
I don’t answer. I just stare at his face. I look into his deep blue eyes that I fell in love with all those years ago, and I swim in them. I marinate in them, trying to memorize their shape and their beauty. I’m aware that I’m dreaming, and that it won’t last forever, so I try to slow it down. I want to stop time and just stand there with him in that cold, crisp autumn air that we both loved so much. Finally, after five minutes or an hour, I speak. “Is it really you?” My eyes are already tearing up, and he just got here. “It’s really me, Boo. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a date night. Just you and me. Come on. Let’s go inside and watch the movie.”
 
He takes my hand, and I sigh as his familiar, strong fingertips interlock with mine. We float hand in hand into the theatre. All of the people, the crowds, the couples that were there when I arrived – are gone. Nobody is inside this movie. It is just us, and it is mesmorizing. It’s a miracle. We sit down toward the back of the theatre, and he hands me some popcorn that appears out of thin air. A large beverage sits in the cup holder, waiting.
Neither of us looks at the movie screen. We are fixated on each other, and on this time we have together.
 
I start spilling out anything and everything to him. I feel like he has been gone for 900 years and there are so many things to say. I can’t choose, so I say it all: “I moved out of our apartment, Boo. I left New Jersey, and Im in New York and it’s so nice and I should be happy, but I dont know how to be without you. Everything I do now is without you here on earth and I don’t know how to give any of it meaning anymore. I feel like Im pretending when I’m with people, and lonely as hell when I’m not with people. Everything in between feels like a migraine. I’m so tired.”
 
“I know, Boo. You’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you. It kills me to see you in this kind of pain, but it also means you are processing things. You’re not running away from any of it. You are getting through this. One awful second at a time.” His eyes are tearing up. Mine are crying buckets.
 
“Why are we at a movie theatre?” I ask him. “And where did all the people go that were outside?”
 
“Because you came to this theatre the other night by yourself and it made you sad, so I wanted to replace that memory with this one. So now when you come back to the movies alone, you can think about this night instead of that night, okay?” He puts his arm around me and scratches my back like he used to do. “Scratch, scratch, scratch” he says in his silly voice as his hand moves up and down my back. I can’t stop staring at him.
 
“But this isn’t a memory. It’s just a dream. None of it is real, right?”
 
“Does it feel like it’s real?”
 
“Yes. You feel real right now, and my heart is pounding, and I love you.”
 
“Then it’s real. Popcorn?” He pops giant handfuls of popcorn into his mouth and eats them way too fast, just like he used to do at home.
 
“Slow down, Boo. You’ll choke and I won’t know how to save you.” I used to always say this to him, but it made much more sense when he was alive.
 
“I’m dead, Boo.” He gives me his best deadpan, smart-ass reply. “Choking is no longer an issue.” He hands me the drink and I sip it. Root beer. His favorite.
 
“So can I ask you stuff? What’s it like where you are now? Are you energy? Are you an Angel? What happens to us? Do you miss me?” I start crying again. I don’t ever want to let go or leave this movie theatre with the non-movie, or leave this dream or this vision or this thing that is happening.
 
He holds me tight. “If I told you any of that stuff, I’d have to kill you.” He cackles at his own joke.
 
I’m still crying. I pick up the popcorn tub and throw it on the floor like a child. “It’s not funny!” I yell at him for the first time ever, and my tears won’t stop now. “None of this is funny to me. You don’t have to be down here and suffer this pain and this agony and this fear. You don’t have to walk around with a huge chunk of your soul missing. You don’t have to face the rest of your life and sickness and old age and other people you love dying – without the person you were supposed to be with forever! You get to be a spirit and dance on clouds and make cameo appearances and fly around the atmosphere like fuckin’ Tinkerbell, while I have to sit here and be madly in love with a dead guy who I can only feel for a few seconds in my dreams. It’s not fucking funny, and I wish you would kill me, because that would mean this pain would finally end and I could just be with you all the time forever. I hate you.”
 
I am sobbing into his Yankee t-shirt now. Hyperventilating. He holds onto me tight until I can breathe again. He looks into my eyes. He says these next words with extreme importance. He isn’t laughing anymore. “This is why we are in the theatre alone, Boo. So you can breakdown in private. It’s just you and me. Outside these doors, the people and the happy couples and holidays and love and life are all there. They are all there waiting. Someday, Boo, you will want to be there too. Right now, you are living, but someday, you will want to live again. I promise. I would never lie to you. I love you. Go at your own pace. Take all the time you need. I will be here for as long as you need. I am dead, but I am not gone. Our love is never gone. You need to carry me with you everywhere you go. Trust that it’s real. Believe it, and I will be there with you. I know it’s not the same, and I know it sucks, but it is real. Don’t ever let go, Boo. Remember what we wrote in our vows?”
 
“Until forever.”
 
“That’s right. Not ’til death do us part. Until forever. And that is how long I’ll be with you. When my heart stopped, it traveled into yours, Boo. My heart is your heart. Your heart is mine. Until forever.”
 
There is a pause. “How come you were never this romantic when you were alive? Suddenly you’re Robert Frost now. Holy Shit!” I’m laughing again, and so is he. “Not romantic? What are you talkin’ about? I uprooted my entire life to that goddamn shit-hole New Jersey so I could be with you. That’s romantic.” He shakes his head and smiles.
 
“Movie’s over, Boo.” He starts to get up, and takes my hand to help me up too. “What movie?” I say sarcastically. “We didn’t see anything!”
 
“Sure we did. We saw a lot. It just wasn’t on the movie screen. It was real.”
 
We walk hand in hand outside of the movie theatre and into the large hallway. We stand underneath a sign that reads, in big red letters, EXIT. This is the end of our date. Our time. Our dream. Our whatever. It’s time to go now, or time to wake up, and as usual, I am dreading that moment when I am forced to return to the harsh reality of him being gone.
 
He reads my heart and he says: “Stop thinking about it, Boo. You’re going to wake up and start questioning and doubting everything all over again. Just stop. Believe. Trust me. Our time on earth together is done, but our relationship is never over. Not ever. It’s just different. You always used to say that marriage is like a secret. The greatest secret between two people that nobody else will ever truly know about. Well, now we have a new secret. You and me. Now we have this. I’m not going to say goodbye, because it’s never goodbye. It’s until next time. Until forever.”
 
He gives me a kiss that I feel in my toes. I would give up everything to feel it again. He starts to slowly walk away. Once he is a good distance from me, he turns around and yells out: “By the way, tell Johnycakes that if I ever catch him at Camden Yards waving around one of those stupid orange rags and rootin’ for the damn Orioles, there’s gonna be some serious Hell to pay. Asshat.” I laugh out loud hearing him use one of his favorite insult terms again. Asshat.
 
I don’t remember this dream ending. I don’t know how it ended, and maybe that’s how it was designed. No ending. No end. Just me standing underneath that EXIT sign. Not yet ready to want to live life. 
 
Not ready to face the people. Not wanting to go outside. Just staying right there. In that place. In that hallway. In that dream that wasn’t a dream. Just taking in the profound words that my beautiful, dead husband said to me, and letting them sink in. Letting the magic seep into my bones. Like when you see a really good movie with someone. One of those films that make you think and feel. Make you wonder. So you just stay there and watch the credits roll – and you revel in the tiny miracle that just occured on that big screen in front of you. Was it art? A dream? An escape? Or was it real?
 
Who cares? Let’s just stay here and be perfectly still, so we can remain inside of our secret, for just a little bit longer.
 

Blah …

I almost didn’t care enough to write this.

I almost said “Screw it. I’m tired of writing out my goddamn feelings. Why am I doing this anyway? What’s the point?”

I’m sick of myself. I’m tired of being sad. Tired of pretending that I’m not sad. Tired of the constant explaining to people who will never understand. Tired of everyone misinterpreting my feelings and emotions. Tired of having emotions. Tired of feeling like I’m a failure at grief. Like I missed all those extensive classes on Widow Etiquette. I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in FuckYou-Ville. Oops.

Something has happened inside of me. It started slowly, right around the one-year mark of his death. About two months ago.

The lights went out.

My eyes shut off. My heart shut down. My brain is fried. My legs don’t work right. I feel so heavy. The 12 months of sleepless nights has finally caught up with me. My skin is dry. My nails are weak. I’m on the edge of a cliff and I don’t have the energy or motivation to move. There’s a mac truck coming straight for me and I just stand there. Frozen. If it runs me over, that’s cool. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. The wheels and the weight of a truck crushing my body can’t possibly hurt as much as the pain of losing my husband.

Nothing can hurt as much as the pain of losing my husband.

Pain. I have felt so much of it, that I no longer feel it. Go ahead. Hit me in the head with a hammer. I might not notice. Take my dreams and smash them into pieces. Whatever. Insult me on the deepest and most personal level. You can’t hurt me. I’m already dead.

I don’t mean to be overdramatic. But it’s the truth. I am gone. The person that used to occupy this body is not here anymore. Everything that I am is different. Everything I feel is different. My insides have been scooped out, and now it’s just hollow. Like a tin can. You can almost hear the emptiness in the echo. Time to rebuild, but I’m much too tired. Fuck it.

There are some things you can never forget. There are some moments that stay inside you forever. There is no turning back from where I am now. Once you have seen your own husband lying in a casket – you are no longer the same. Once you have experienced the very real and terrifying knowledge that anyone can be taken from you at any time with no warning – you live your life differently. You just do.

My anchor is gone. My best friend. The person that I turned to in times like this, when I feel lost beyond measure. He isn’t here. And neither am I.

I’m tired. I’m numb. I’m Blah.

My birthday that passed last week? The old me walked around reminding anyone who would listen that it was my “birthday month.” The old me loved cake and wishes and birthday date nights with my husband, and romantic cards from him and the kitty cats. The new me let the day pass by like any other day. Friends tried to make it special for me with dinners and cupcakes and packages in the mail. So appreciated. My face tried to smile but my heart felt blah.

The 90 minutes of non-moving traffic I was in last week en route to a grief support group, that made me over an hour late? Old me would be cursing and sweating and panicking and pissed. New me doesn’t care much. There are worse things in life to get pissed at. Traffic is not one of them.

The gorgeous sunset from my new bedroom window? Not the same without my husband to share it with. The Yankees coming back to dramatically tie it up in the bottom of the 9th, and then win it in the 12th, on the second to last game of the season? Yeah. It sucks cheering alone. The apple cider beer we used to both love drinking together every fall? Not as great as I remember it.

Everything just feels blah. Good things. Bad things. All of it. Blah.

I remember happy. I recall joy. I just don’t feel it. I know that I will crawl through life and that I will eventually be “okay.” I’ll get by. There will be laughter and friends and family and maybe even dreams realized.

It’s just impossible to imagine that any of that could ever really mean anything when I don’t have my partner to share it with. To live life with. To stand in the rain with and drink lemonade and play a game of catch in central park with. To grow old with. To get sick with. To pay bills with and fight with and hear incredible music with and watch our niece and nephew grow up with. To go to weddings and funerals with, and to dance with, and cry with, and to vote in the next election with. To split a pizza with. To retire with. To have a family with. To celebrate anniversaries with. To face the future with. To face the fear of death with. To die with.

All things in life, whether awful or lovely, should be shared with that person you chose to love forever.

When forever is taken away, and you’re forced to continue breathing, all you are really left with is blah.

I’m all out of screaming. I’m fresh out of pissed. The only thing I have in stock is BLAH.

Blah. Pounds and pounds of blah. I’m drowning in the stuff, and if I had more life in me, I’d pick my ass up and get the hell out of the ocean. But I can’t be bothered. Not right now.

Go ahead and walk on by. I’ll be here on my raft of blah. Floating.