Have you ever taken a few minutes or hours or days, to look completely outside your own life and how your loss affects it, and instead look into the world at large? If you have, like I have, you might find yourself staring into a great, big, never-ending, cavernous hole.
Being where I currently am inside this grief tsunami, (3 years and 4 months) I have pretty much felt the pain and loss and hurt on every level there is by now. Sure, there is more to be felt and processed and coped with, but I am now at the point where not much of it surprises me anymore or lasts too long. The changing and shifting emotions of grief seem to be happening more often now, generally. However, once in awhile, my heart will stay stuck on one particular thing that my brain just can’t figure out how to get through. Right now, and for awhile, it has been sitting right in the center of the world around me.
So much has happened in this country, and in this world, lately. So many questions and no answers. So many things to talk about, yet nobody I really want to talk with or who has the time or care to talk to me. So much anger and hatred and doubt and people with blinders on and racism and labeling and prejudice and fear and opinions on top of opinions on top of opinions. I don’t want to hear any of them. They sound like noise.
Bill Cosby and the many sexual assault/rape allegations. The death of Joan Rivers. The death of Robin Williams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and how their lives and deaths sparked discussions about depression and suicide. Treyvon Martin. The Ferguson verdict, and now Eric Garner. President Obama, his 2nd term, and what happens next. The craziness over Ebola. Malaysia Airlines crash / disappearance. Malala Yousafzai winning Nobel Peace Prize. Derek Jeter retires from baseball after 20 years with New York Yankees. World Trade Center “Freedom Tower” re-opening, 13 years after 9/11 attack. Republicans win control of U.S. Senate in mid-term elections. The ongoing tensions between Israel and Hamas. The incredible landing of a probe onto a speeding comet. And on and on and on ……….
I know I am forgetting some things, but these are just a few of the events that have taken place in 2014, that my husband would have been particularly interested in. Don was a very smart guy. An Air-Force vet and paramedic with a big fascination and intelligence for politics, he was someone who always knew what was going on in the world and in the country. He was always reading. He would read articles online, and newspapers, and magazines, and he would keep up on all current events and always had such a great take on things. He also loved watching The History Channel or pretty much any documentary about science or art or film or sports or the latest in technology or medical advances, or anything, really. He soaked up information like a sponge, and then passed it along to me and others, like a teacher. My brother said of Don, after he died, that he always felt like he was learning something whenever he was with him. I felt that way too. Always learning, but he never once made me feel like I was “less than” while doing so.
Right now, with the latest decision for no indictment of NYPD officer Dan Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, there is a lot of silence and noise inside my head. Silence, in the middle of the night, when I sit with my own confusing thoughts, instead of holding hands in bed with my husband and having a peaceful and insightful discussion about these events, what they mean, and what is ahead for our country and society. Silence, in the dark space of each new world event, where I ask myself painfully – What would Don think? What would Don say? What would his take be on this situation? Up until about a year or so ago, I was able to immediately know what he would have said or felt about each individual thing, or I could hear his voice in my head talking about it, and picture how he might form the words of what he might say. But recently, this knowledge is much less there, and much more foggy. I am no longer able to automatically know his take on things, or how he might comfort me or enlighten me with some new thing I didn’t know before. Now, I sit in the silence of never feeling what he would say or think, and that silence fills me with emptiness. Thinking about all the things he will continue to miss and not be aware of, not only in our private lives but in the world, still makes me feel sick to my stomach at how unfair that is.
Which brings me to the noise. Sitting alongside of the silence where my husband used to be, is the unrelenting noise. Noise, in the opinions of other people. Noise, in the knowing that others get to go to their safe place, or have a discussion on the car ride home that night with their loved one, about all these events that unfold throughout time. Noise, in the hearing of other couples talking and bantering with one another, about said events and pop culture things and important things, and knowing I have nowhere to put my own thoughts. Noise, in the aggressive and angry nature of social media posts, where people express their opinions on such topics by starting with sentences like: ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH ME CAN DELETE THEMSELVES RIGHT NOW or ANY STUPID LIBERAL WHO VOTED FOR OBAMA SHOULD UNFRIEND ME IMMEDIATELY. Facebook is great, and being on there has literally saved me from my own isolation in the wake of my husband’s death, but it is also a place filled with rage, assumptions, and over the top anger. The tone in a lot of the posts, whenever discussing anything political, religious, or slightly controversial, often begins with aggression and defensiveness, and tends to divide people more than bring them together. I try really hard not to get too wrapped up in a Facebook thread about these serious topics, because they almost never end well, and they rarely bring any sort of progress to a cause or situation.
But here’s the thing – if you are on social media or even just out in the world, having a heated discussion about world events and issues of our time, a lot of you can leave that discussion whenever you want, and go home to your safe place with the person you most trust, and say to them while lying on the couch that night: “So, that conversation earlier at so-and-so’s house was insane, right? Can you believe what so-and-so said about Bill Cosby? She is crazy to think that he is innocent! So honey – what do you think about all of this?’
And then, there is that magical moment, where you get to listen to the thoughts of the person you chose to spend your life with. Do you even realize how awesome that is? How lucky you are? After 3 years and 4 months of not having my husband here on earth, this is what I miss most of all. That moment – when I get to turn off all the noise of the outside world – and just listen to the sound of my husband’s voice – sharing with me and only me, all the things that matter.