So, here I am. 4 years and 6 plus months after Paul died. I would be lying if I said I don’t think about him anymore. He flashes through my mind all the time. I hear his voice in the back of my head a lot. But you should know this. Paul and I were only together for less than 3 years. Married just over two years. It is a short time. I don’t ever think about my ex-husband and we were together a lot longer. My friend Fred understood, he told me, “AED, it doesn’t matter how long, it’s the connection that matters.” There is something about separation by death that makes an indelible mark on the psyche.
As I write this, my new love is asleep in the bedroom. We have been together for a year now. He is to me a miracle in a dark night. He is also widowed. He just made reservations tonight for us to go to Estes Park Resort for a day this week on a whim to “enjoy life” before my surgery this Friday. And, I just got done crying my eyes out to him over all my many failures in life. Foremost as a Mother, as a Feminist, as a Human Being. He lay there next to me, with his hand across my body, while I cried and confessed for at least thirty minutes, never trying to talk me out of my guilt, my remorse, my owning up to my failures. He LISTENED. He gently reminded me how difficult life is, and how we all make mistakes, but he never refuted my feelings or said I was wrong for having them. He just Listened.
OH, how I wish I had him around after Paul died. People tried. They tried very, very, hard to understand and to be sympathetic (well, some of them). That is all I ever wanted, was for someone to LISTEN to me, silently, and absorb the pain, confusion, and anger I felt. Some were unbelievably supportive and wonderful. Like my best friend, MiMi. She took time off work, flew down for the funeral and escorted me via airplane to San Francisco on my first leg to Hawaii to go see my newborn granddaughter. The trip had been planned, Paul’s death was not. My sister came over and cleaned my whole house – ceiling fans included, and spent the night with me because I was scared. And she helped me navigate the funeral home fiascos, I was too drunk to deal with it. My best friend/brother came and served as a pall bearer. Paul’s kids came over a few days after and made dinner. But then, the silence started. People went on with their lives, as they should. The unbearable aloneness that resulted is something that I am sure everyone here understands. There is no one to cry to. No one to HEAR that you aren’t over it, and may never be. It isn’t the way we are taught. We are taught to DEAL WITH IT, and MOVE ON.
So, back to the listening thing. I sit right now, in a modest apartment, with three cats who keep me busy and loved, (even if I have to vacuum three times a day..) and a sleeping man who just let me cry about all my failures in life without interrupting. A man who has let me cry about Paul, a Man who has shared his raw emotions about the death of his wife from breast cancer and how that turned his world upside down, and a Man who listens while I talk about how Paul’s death completely changed my life and my view of life.
And what is my view of life now? Post-death experience? 4 plus years out with a New Life Mate?
Well, it is this. Life is hard. Life is amazing. Life is disappointing. Life is Surprising. Life is a Grind. Life is Colorful. Life is Sad. Life is Happy. Life is Unexpected. Life is tedious. Life is Adventurous. Life is Wonderful. Life is……Life.
We don’t know what it holds, unless we LIVE IT. From someone who has considered suicide a number of times as a way to escape the inexplicable pain, I hope this holds some HOPE for you. A year ago, I did not think I had any reason to LIVE. Really. Bad health, no income, no stability, no HOPE. And in a YEAR, much of that has turned around. I still have a couple of surgeries coming up, and I am not rich for sure, but I have found this. A lovely person who LISTENS to me, a lovely state to watch thunderstorms, and rainbows, and beautiful skyscapes. A great coffee shop across the street, a bunch of cool places I can walk to (because I don’t have a car). And a lovely group of people to say hello to every day.
I know how hard it is to struggle just to survive. I have done this most of my life, and certainly A LOT after Paul died.
I’m just saying, that when it seems like everything is lost, and even your beautiful granddaughter is not a reason to go on because your every moment is like hell. Hold on one more day. And then another. And another, And another. Things CAN and DO change.
I am LIVING proof.
And, if you still feel sad and hopeless, I am LISTENING. Tell me.