That Other Life

Does it ever stop? Does it ever really go away?

That feeling. That longing, that comes out of nowhere.

That thing where you are inside of a moment, enjoying it and loving it, and then suddenly, seemingly out of the clear blue sky, that feeling- like you’ve swallowed a nail, just enters your stomach, like an invasion.

Suddenly, while deeply involved in a beautiful moment of the life you currently have, it enters you. Right there, smack in the center of your joy, a deep and overwhelming sadness.

That thing.

That longing.

That Other Life.

That Other Life, the one you had before death stole it away, reminds you how much you miss it, over and over and over again. It happens in a split second, and it takes you by surprise each time, as if it’s never happened before. Standing there, in the midst of ecstatic joy, you feel like you want to cry forever. You feel your stomach drop out from under you, a bottoming out of your insides. That other life pokes you and stabs you again and again, just in case you had forgotten for a few seconds, that it is no longer there for you.

Last night, Hillary Clinton made history when she accepted the nomination for President of the United States – the first ever female nominee of a major political party. As I watched it unfold on C-SPAN, I felt such joy at the history of it all. At what it means for America, for women in this country and all over the world. I felt it on a visceral level, and I started to beam with pride. I was smiling and laughing right along with Bill and Hillary, as those balloons fell from that “glass ceiling” that had finally been lifted. A moment in time for the ages, something that would be remembered for decades to come.

And then, just like that, out of nowhere, my joy turned into a longing and an intense sadness. There was no warning. No sense of why, in that moment, all my emotions decided to flip. They just did, and suddenly, I was sobbing. Just seconds before, the happiness was so pure and genuine. And then, just gone. An emptiness took it’s place, and I had this need to share this historical moment in time, with my husband. My husband, who predicted that Hillary would be our first female President. My husband, who was born on Election Day, and was a fellow Democrat with me. My husband, who was way more into politics than I am, and who loved debating and talking points and learning and sharing with both people that agreed, and those who didn’t. My husband, who would still be teaching me things, and who would have the same pride in this moment that I have. And please don’t tell me that he was right there with me, or that he DID see it, or that I should talk to him anyway. I know all of that. But none of that is even close to the same, and none of that is going to feed me what I want, which is for him to be here right now, in this moment in time, to watch this happen with me. And the thing is – in that moment, he is the ONLY person I wanted to share it with. Nobody else. Just him. It was his specific take on the world that I was longing for. His opinion I wanted to hear. His joy and his laughter and his holding me and smiling with me, as we watched history unfold together.

That other life. I want it. And I can never have it. Not ever again. And when that point is driven home multiple times, slamming into me like a tornado, it just hurts. And it keeps on hurting, until it doesn’t. Until next time.

This life is the life that I have, and I have vowed to make it a bright and beautiful one, because my husband does not have that option. And I am determined to do just that, even though some days, it is just about the most impossible thing in the world. I will do it, because doing anything less, is dishonoring his life, and wasting life itself. But that longing – that need and urge and want – to get it all back again, to turn back time and have him here with me – it will never go away. Not ever.

I suppose we just figure out a way, to live inside this life, while honoring and remembering that other life. And perhaps finding places where we can merge the two together – like a tapestry or a blanket, of everything that we were, that we are, and that we will become. That other life is NOT part of our past. It is the foundation for everything beautiful, that we still have yet to see.

We don’t need to choose between that life and this one. We cannot ever have that life back, so there is no choice to make. But, it is not gone either. I refuse to believe it is gone. If it were gone, then it wouldn’t keep showing it’s face and it’s soul – it wouldn’t keep invading us, while we live this life. It’s there. That other life is there. It’s there every time we breathe, and every time we say yes to life. So embrace it. When it shows up, embrace it. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. Make it known to others that it’s there and that you’re missing it. And if they don’t understand, find someone who does, and spend more time with that person. For when we merge all the pieces of who we are, with everything that made us – it is only then, that we become whole.

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2 thoughts on “That Other Life

  1. It’s good to know that I’m not alone with the same feelings. One moment your happy and in a blink of an eye, your wipping away tears.

    A friend of mine came accross this “article” in a local newspaper and it brought me some comfort. As you know, the pain, loneliness, empty days and tears never go away. We have memories to hold on too and for those who believe in spirituality and life after death, that one day we will be together again. I feel your pain as I lost my wife just a few months ago at the young age of 52. She was the life of our household, forever jovial and she strongly beleived in spirituality and life after death. We had so many plans for our retirement and now none are worth pursuing without her. I will however continue to make the best of the rest of my life with the comfort of knowing that one day, we will be together again. For now, I know she is with me spiritually. I speak with her everyday as I know she is listening and helping me through the rest of my life. Here is the “article”, hope it also brings you some comfort;

    “Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easyway which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same at it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.”

    Wishing you and your followers all the courage and strenght to continue with the rest of your life just as your loved one would want and not to give death more power than it deserves. BCB

  2. Yes. hate when people say ” hes right there beside you “. they dont understand you cant touch a ghost. i feel your pain . im just over the 2 year mark ( july 22) and the pain is still so raw. a neighbor and i were talking and she didnt know it was my henry whom had died. so i told her. and just the mention of his name stabs me in the heart. the pain i still carry in my eyes. went for coffee with a few people last week and one of them said ” you lost someone you loved ” … tears. yes . if anyone were to look into my eyes its there, the pain the emptiness the longing for him. my henry. but ill get though as we all will. day by day step by step. hugs kelley xx

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