Today I was talking to my therapist about work and life and how hard this transition time is while I try to learn how to manage and build the necessary muscles for being a full time working solo parent. As we talked about how I should think about a strategy for the future or an exit strategy if needed for my current job, we talked about how I know that I can do anything as long as I know it is finite. And then I had a breakthrough.
Ron is dead. He is going to stay dead. He is not on a trip. I am not going to wake up. He is not going to come back. He is dead and his death is infinite. I have to live with the infinite. He is not going to come back. His death is infinite.
That made me catch my breath and left me speechless. The realization, the awakening brought me to tears. Does it seem strange to call it an awakening, a realization? Does it seem strange that it has taken me almost three years to realize that I was keeping the reality at bay? I think aspects of grief unfolds slowly so that we can handle it, so that it doesn't completely destroy us. I think all this time I have kept the door cracked open, that I held some tiny disbelief in the reality of Ron's infinite death. I guess I needed that suspension of reality to keep me going.
Yesterday, I was taking a break from the endless hours in front of my computer and standing at the kitchen counter eating nutella on crackers. I was randomly reading Facebook posts and without thinking about it, I decided to change my status and delete the word “married”. In May, Ron will have been dead for three years. This May, would have been our 14th wedding anniversary. It has taken me three years to feel less married, to start to feel my married- to- a- man who- isn’t- living state. Do I love Ron less? No. Do I miss him less? No. But my life has changed and transformed in ways that do not involve him. I am living without him. I still wear my rings, but now on my right hand instead of my left. Does that matter? Does anyone notice? Probably not. But it matters to me. I wear them because of all that they represent, all the love, all the hope, all the promise. But I wear them on my right hand instead of my left because I no longer have a living husband. I no longer share my days with my love, my confidante, my dearest friend and biggest supporter. I live my life alone, with my daughters and I make the decisions and I carry the load. Is he with me? Yes, in my heart and in the constant hum of what I think he would do/think/say in almost every occasion, all the time. Do I miss him? Yes, I do, so badly that it is a physical pain. So, I deleted the word “married” and left it blank. It did not make me sad to do that. I’d thought it would. It was an impulse. It was time. I don’t want to invite questions so I didn’t choose widowed or single or complicated. Just left it open. I was married. I was happily married to a man I looked forward to being with every single day. But he is dead and he isn’t coming back.
I feel a shift in my grief, I am a few inches closer to accepting/understanding/grasping that he really did die. That which I thought was impossible happened. Shiny, vibrant, smiling, loving Ron actually died. It really did happen.
So I didn’t feel sad when I changed my Facebook status, almost three years later. The floodgates opened this afternoon when I realized that I have to live with the infinite. That there will not be an end to the fact that he died. It is a permanent part of my life, of his story, of our story. That moment when I thought about his infinite death I felt another shift. Finite hardships are manageable. We can live in cramped hot or cold uncomfortable conditions, we can do jobs we hate, we can eat food we dislike, if we know there is an end in sight. When the situation is infinite, it is so much harder. It is hard to be patient or tolerant when the situation is open-ended. But I entered a new phase today, I am a few steps closer to the reality of Ron’s death and I know that I can live with the infinite because I have absolutely no choice and because I have been living with it for the past almost three years. Knowing that I can live with the infinite gives me an undercurrent of power. It is daunting but life, my life is happening every moment, whether I accept it or not. I still have a ways to go before I fully embrace my life as it is today. It is hard, the days are hard and I slog my way through them. I am lonely and I miss Ron and hate that our daughters are growing up without him. I can’t say that I embrace my life even though I know how good I have it and how lucky I am in so many ways. I know what to be grateful for, I see beauty around me all the time, and I value kindness and generosity above almost everything else. I don’t need a lesson in gratitude. Ron died. That is infinite. That hurts. What is also infinite is our love. Our love for each other, my love for my no longer living husband. Our love is an infinite power and light and strength and energy. Finite/Infinite. I can do both.