What Remains …

I am not really sure where my husband went off to. He died. Yes. But it never feels that way. It feels as if he were part of some horrible magic trick in some terrible, cheesy Vegas act. One second – here. The next second – gone. POOF! Magic! It feels as though I took a nap, and then woke up and he went missing, never to be seen again. He died while I was asleep. Asleep. Im not sure that I will ever know how to process that. Im not sure that I want to. I am sure that there is no such thing as “closure.”

I am not really sure where I went off to. I’m alive. Yes. But it never feels that way. It feels as if I am part of some horrific magic trick in some awful, cheesy cruiseship act. That same hack trick where they pretend to cut the woman in half, as she lay inside the box. Except it’s not a trick at all. Every second that I’m here, living in this world, I am being severed in half. Over and over and over again. He died while I was asleep, and when I woke up, he was dead. He was already dead. Im not sure that I will ever know how to process that. Im not sure that I want to. I am sure that there is no such thing as “better.”

Where is that girl? That girl that my husband fell in love with. That girl that he believed in. That girl that he kissed for the first time on that NYC ferryboat, when our smiles for each other lit up the nightsky, when our futures were dancing with promise. I once knew that girl who was hopeful and dreamy, quirky and warm, energetic and fun. She laughed with abandon. She loved her birthday. She lived for Christmas, and all things family, and dinner-parties and music and baseball. She had dreams, and after years of heartbreak, she had finally found love. The true, amazing, rare, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

But we didnt get the lifetime, and so that girl lost her hope and her dreams. She isnt really much fun anymore. She tries, but she is very tired, because this new life is exhausting and hard and long. Her big brown eyes feel gray and colorless. She feels guilty on her birthday, lonely and empty on Christmas, and baseball games don’t seem to have the same impact without hearing her husband’s ongoing commentary. That girl went to sleep one night, just like any other night. Except it wasn’t. Because on that night, that girl went to sleep, and woke up dead.

Im not really sure where my husband’s remains are, or what remains of my husband. In that gray-looking canister they gave me, all filled with dirt? In the sand and in the water, where I tossed some of him on those meaningful days? In my heart – the way everyone is always telling me? In the universe, the clouds, the air? In the harmonies of a song so beautiful, you can hear your heart skipping? Maybe. But it never feels that way. People will feed you meals made up of the phrase: “He is always with you”, but actually knowing his touch is like trying to hug a butterfly.

Im not really sure where my remains are, or what remains of me. The pieces that were severed, came off little by little, second by second, hurt by mindnumbing hurt. Maybe I lost an arm while running into the ER that morning. Maybe a leg was chopped off when the nurses surrounded me and said “massive heart-attack. He didnt make it.” Maybe my soul disappeared while staring into that casket at my husband’s eyes that were no longer his eyes, or his face that was no longer his face. Perhaps my heart leapt out of my body and fell onto the wet ground, when I got that autopsy report in the mail. When I saw his name on that death certificate. When my 6 foot 4 husband, was handed to me, in a can. Remains.

So what remains of that girl, who died that day, on that day that she woke up? Many things, and nothing at all really. Everything that she was – she is not. Everything that she is – she was not. Her laugh is broken. Her smile is weak. She has no time for petty shit. She feels compassion for those in pain. She feels connected to those who hurt. She feels jealous of those with long lives and long marriages, and angry at the ones who dont ever seem to appreciate what they have. She panics easily, cries effortlessly, and feels deep emotion with abandon. She doesnt sleep enough, she writes too much, and she eats too much. She doesnt know yet how to take care of herself. She doesnt know yet how to care. About life. About being alive. She doesnt understand this new life – this weird future without her husband. This universe where she doesn’t grow old with him or spend decades with him or have children with him or retire with him. She doesnt understand yet, all that there is to understand.

Not yet. Not ever. Not yet.

So much was lost. So much is gone. He is gone. I am gone. Some things stay, but they dont look the same. They arent the same. But they stay anyway. Our love stays. The grief stays. Today stays. All of that stays, and it makes a great big pile of clusterfuck, in the wreckage. The pieces that lie there in that dirt, will somehow form a life. If I keep trying to figure it out, how they all go together, they will mold into my tomorrow. And all of the hope and the loss and the love and the fight and the hurt and the pain and the light – they will crash into one another, if I let them, and they will be the tools that I use to create, whatever the something is that I create.

What remains, is what I create. And what I create, is what remains ….

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21 thoughts on “What Remains …

  1. I can so identify with your thoughts here…..it’s exactly how I feel every day. I’m 5 1/2 yrs. into this “lostness” and it just doesn’t seem to get any better. Wishing you days of sunshine so it can help shine some light into your days.

  2. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I miss him, oh I how I miss him, but I also miss me. The me that he shaped me into. The me that loved to spend time with groups of friends and say inappropriately funny things and wear bright colors and put on makeup. The me that followed the NFL and bragged about my husband. I still brag, but now it makes people tense, like they don’t want to go down the dark road I have to walk on every second of every day. I feel like before I met him, I was in hibernation, just biding my time until the spring when we met, and that the time we had together, that’s when I was truly awake, living life, but now that he’s gone, I’ve gone back into hibernation. The biological processes may unmercifully continue, but the me that was awake and alive all those years has gone.

  3. Very powerful message here, Kelley….gut wrenching actually. I know there is nothing I can say to make things better but I want you to know I will always listen.
    Big hugs to you.
    -tobi

  4. All of the above for me also. Almost at 4 years….I still am not anywhere near the me I liked when I was with Mike. The new me is fat, has a hard time getting around, hurts (physically) all the time, so trying to get things done requires extra effort. I am tired of doing things by myself. Doing all the driving. Doing all the things other people (myself included) take (took) for granted. There is no one else for me in this world, so I am pretty sure I am going to end up by myself when all is said and done (which is soon, I hope). No real family to support me, a few friends who try but don’t really get it. Even other widows heal much quicker than me, making me feel all that more broken and sick. I am usually pretty sad when I wake up alive!!!!

  5. It’s true a little piece of you dies with every decision. Sell his truck, trade in your dream car because you can’t afford it on a single salary. Shopping by yourself for one. Couples everywhere remind you of what you are, without him. I’m a freak, so twisted, dark, scary and oh so damaged. Not in the outside, but deep, deep inside. And yet . . . There are moments where you see that girl. She so strange and foreign to you and this new “normal” that you’re living/dying. I am that girl not this new one that everybody says I should be. I choose the right to claim her, be her. I choose the right to live happily ever after and I start NOW!

  6. Don will never be out of our hearts..we think about him everyday. The memories we have of him (and you) together are happy memories and we are grateful that at least you do have wonderful memories with Don and that, you will take with “until forever.” He was taken from you way to soon.

    You may not feel it buy you are on the right path and helpng others get through this grief is also helping you. I know someday you will be making new memories while never letting go of the wonderful happy memories you have of Don. He would want that for you.

  7. Such a well written, heartfelt post. I have had many of these thoughts and feelings and still do at 6 1/2 years out. Thoughts pop into my head at unexpected times. Your last lines in your post speak to me. “What remains, is what I create. And what I create, is what remains ….” I feel like it is up to me how this life of mine will be lived, and I have started creating mine by engaging in things that I love.

  8. Beautiful writing, Kelley. No, I don’t know what you’re going through and so many of us don’t but you tell it so well. You’re helping so many people out there while you, yourself are healing. Keep up the good work. Big hugs.

  9. So very true. At 4 and 1/2 years out I still feel this way. You put into works so eloquently what the rest of us need to say. Thanks for saying it for us non-writers. You are right – there is no closure and there is no “better” – there is just “different”. And that is what we have to deal with and accept. Yeah, well, whatever…..

  10. Kelly…reading your post has made me re-think my life..where I am..where I’m heading..who I am with at this moment in my life… I have lost myself in this life I’m living..I haven’t lost a husband to death, but to divorce…and I’ve been looking since then…I’ve made so many mistakes…taking things for granted..not really living..but just staying alive each day..Seeing what you are going through, what you have been through, and what you are facing ahead has made me realize I’m not doing anything at all I want to do in my life…not right now…maybe in the beginning, but somewhere along the line it all stopped…I suppose I gave up..on me…And here you are…going through such torment and heartache…but you keep going…I have to ask myself, “What are you living for if not for yourself?” I don’t have an answer..but I intend on finding out my answer even if it means changing everything in my life and doing everything differently…Thank you for your post…As heartbreaking as it is, and it so is, you have made me realize I need to start living…now..xoxoxo

  11. I’d never seen your blog before today when some-one posted it on my FB wall…because I got angry when some-one called my posts ‘airing my dirty laundry’….my husband left me on January 25 at exactly 9:45pm in our living room with my hand on his chest just as the snow began to fall & my world went horrifically quiet. He was only diagnosed in June….prayers went unanswered, and I am alone with a mother slipping away into the darkness of alzheimers who laughs when I cry until I remind her. I watched him slip away, piece by piece….day by day….I am shattered & without any ‘appropriate’ reactions/emotions/what have you. I am leaving your words there on my wall & will post a link to your blog.
    Thank you for your words which serve to prove my point. I am NOT crazy, just sad….. beyond what ever I thought it would be. We should have had 30 more years, grandchildren & weddings and OTHER peoples funerals.
    I have to check the ‘widow’ box on our tax returns. I’ll be late, but I just don’t care…..

  12. What remains, everything and nothing all at once. I find myself wishing that I had paid more attention to each day we had together, every conversation, every joke , every fight, every, everything.Memories come out of nowhere and either smack me down or make me smile. I live with just two emotions now.They are the only things that remind me that Im still alive sometimes. Cant seem to get very excited about anything. Im trying, Im being the good widow. Put on the happy face, after 19 months your expected to move on. Bullshit. And all the material things that have been boxed away Business cards, cologne, eyeglasses, dentures, sweat pants, pictures, watches, it goes on and on. Each one of these things have become like pharoahs fortune to me, priceless, all so very precious. I moved from NY to SC two months ago, it would have been the perfect time to edit his stuff. Nope, brought it with me.
    What remains is the memories of a better life, of love, of promise, of us. I talk to him every night, hoping that he hears me, that he is somewhere, in an existance better than the one I find myself in now. And that he’ll be there when its my time to put this life to rest. We widowed are told to move on, get over, but we are never told what to move on to…………

  13. I agree, I think this is the most touching and beautiful post yet, so incredibly moving. I’m sorry you are living this.

  14. Oh Kelley. I don’t have answers for that, nor would I try to give them if I had them. This is truly touching, and all I can say, and it may not help but it’s the truth, is that you have people who love you and think of you. And send you virtual hugs.

  15. Beautifully written Kelley, gorgeous writing. Sorry it comes out of such sadness. The only thing I can think of that might help you get your life back, is to go meet with holocaust survivors. They lost everything also, also in the worst way on earth, and they did manage to reclaim their lives, and make new lives for themselves. It doesn’t mean they forgot the families they lost, or ever stopped loving them, but they knew that to waste the life they were fortunate enough to be granted, to waste the lives they escaped with, would be a sin and a disservice to their dead. I’m sure they mourn them every day of their lives, but they also live their lives for all the ones they lost and never got to spend all the future years with. I can’t imagine they, like you, were ever finished screaming, railing, cursing the sky. Yet the choice for them was to live the next 50 years as the victims, or shake their fists at the sky and declare to cruel fate that only a part of them died, not all of them died, and they were going to live for all the ones who didn’t. Never forget. But live.

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