After two and a half years of feeling this soul-changing, earth-shattering loss, I just realized something sort of huge. Well, I always knew it, but I just stopped and actually thought about it, and now I am able to put it into words. It is this: I grieve on behalf of my husband more than I grieve for my husband.
I hope that makes sense. I miss Don more than anything. I miss him and our life together literally every time I take a breath or walk a step or speak a word. I miss him in the rhythms of everything that I am, and some nights and some days and some moments are still horribly painful and intensely emotional.. However, after two and a half years, I have finally, (sometimes) started to actually believe that I might be sort of, kind of “okay”, and that a new brand of joy and life will happen for me again somewhere. It is already happening, at times, in very small pieces. As I continue to process and heal through the loss of the love of my life, I am beginning to feel things other than pain and despair and roads to nothing. I am beginning, slowly, to be able to see the colors inside my own world again – and to know that not only will I survive this, but that I will also create and build a new world for myself, while always proudly taking my husband and our forever love with me, blending him into my future.
So there is that, and all of that is good. It is progress. A lot of hard-earned progress.
But lately, and probably always, I have noticed a pattern within myself and the way I grieve. A large percentage of the intense pain that I feel, the really tough pain that I cannot seem to let go of, is pain that I am feeling on behalf of my husband. When I get really sad about the fact that I will most likely never be a mom and we will never have the family we wanted together, that sadness almost immediately turns into sadness for him. Suddenly, my heart aches and pounds with thoughts of: I am 42 and will never be a mom, but at least I get to LIVE. He will never be a dad, AND he doesn’t get to be alive anymore either. His life was just taken from him, in a flash, in a few seconds, without warning.
When I get scared about my own future and growing old or getting sick and being alone, that fear eventually turns into feeling pain on his behalf: Maybe I will be alone forever and grow old alone, but he will never get to retire or be a grandfather or even a father. He will never get to move back to Florida like he wanted to one day. He will never be the old curmudgeon he was so looking forward to being.
I find that I spend a LOT of time feeling my loss on his behalf, almost as if I were him, and I’m somehow feeling it from the insides of his heart. Instead of thinking: “This is so unfair, why was he taken from me?”, most times I am thinking: “This is so unfair, why was his life cut short? Why doesn’t he get to live anymore?” I carry the grief for me and for him, and it feels extremely heavy. There is no sense of peace or logic when your partner dies so suddenly. No warning. No goodbye. No good morning. No goodnight. He was not sick. Not ever. He was in no pain. Not ever. Our lives were only beginning together. He was just here, and then, he wasn’t. How can that ever make any sense?
He was ripped off. Life ripped him off. He got screwed, and that is just how I feel, and I know that is how he feels too. I can just hear him saying with that dripping sarcasm of his: “Really? That’s how it all ends for me, huh? I collapse on a Petsmart floor and just die? That fucking figures. What a rip-off. I want my money back!” He would be smiling and joking as he said this, but to me, it isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all. It is endlessly unfair and cruel, and I am forever feeling the cruelness of it all, through his eyes. I travel into his soul, and I hurt for him. I sob for him. I ache on his behalf, and I don’t know how to stop. These emotions make me feel crazy and manic and strange, but they keep forcing themselves inside me, and they play like a broken record, and I feel all of the hurt for him that he can’t feel. And the feeling that he was “robbed” of life is so strong, because he had a traumatic childhood – a crazy, most likely bipolar mother, and a father that he didn’t even know was his father until the age of 20, and that barely gave him the time of day. He didn’t marry the love of his life or find his true happiness until age 42, and he was gone at 46. Everytime I think about how cruel that is, or how little quality time he got, it’s like the pain starts all over again. It would be different, maybe, if I believed in some sort of “heaven”, or some place where people who leave Earth exist in another life somehow. But I don’t believe that. I see him and feel him as Energy – and so, to me – he is just out there as part of the universe somewhere. Maybe he is a star or a particle, or maybe pieces of his energy travel throughout the night sky, like a soul or a spirit. He is something that I can feel in my heart, sometimes. He is there, but he is not a person who is able to live a life anymore, and so the fact that his energy still lives does very little to make me feel like he was any less robbed of life.
I can come to terms with having to live the rest of my life without him here on earth.
But how can I ever come to terms with the idea that he died at all? And how do I stop feeling pain for him? Where my sadness ends, his begins.
And so it goes …