The first week of October. Again. Four years later. I wake up and my chest hurts, aches. The real manifestation of heartache. It takes me a while to figure it out. At first I just think that I am lonely and don’t want to go to a social event in my town, alone, without Ron, again. And while that is true ,the heartache is bigger than that. I have been powering through, soldiering it on, sucking it up, crawling my way through social events for a long time. It’s been a while since grief held me back from going to one. Saturday, I spend the first time in months curled up in a ball of hurt on my bed in the middle of the afternoon. I haven’t slept much the night before so I tell the girls I have to nap but I still can’t get my tired body to sleep. So even then, that day, I don’t think about the weather and the light and the date on the calendar. I don’t think about the advent of the first week of October. When Ron and I stood at the edge of the world felt it fall away from us, free fall into the unknown with only a bad ending possible. I remember. I don’t want to remember. I remember another night awake chanting, “please no cancer, please no cancer” as I awaited the next day’s phone call from Ron to tell me his diagnosis. I remember another day of the words, “I’m going to lose my husband, I am going to lose my husband” endlessly repeating through my mind as I went about the day, watching my children and their friends, bringing my daughter to soccer practice where the doctor called me so he could explain it all to me, make sure I understood just how serious it was, that it was terminal. For some reason, the doctor and nurse thought they must drill it into my mind, leave no room for anything else. I don’t know why they thought I needed that. I didn’t resist anything that was said about needing to leave the country or question what Ron had told me. They thought they were helping me. I don’t want to remember but I do. I remember those moments better than many others.
So then it hit me. Oh yeah, it is the first week of October now. The weather is cooler and the leaves are turning and my senses remember everything. This year is different. I have a job now, I can’t just curl up on the couch and shut down for the day. I am stronger, sturdier than I was last October and the October before that. I didn’t think I needed to prepare for this October. But I was mistaken. Time has passed. Others don’t remember or don’t acknowledge what this time is like for me. I know now that I will have to reach out if I want help and I will do that. I am glad to know, rather than feel mystified by their absence or lack of awareness. I need a plan of care, self-care to get through the next couple of weeks that will not slow down for me to fall apart. I need to find a way to let the grief do what it wants. I know now that I can’t control that either. Grief demands to be honored. What I can do it try to find the brief moments of respite. I can take this rare extra time that I have this morning to write. I can try to meditate, or exercise in tiny bursts here or there. It won’t make this less painful and it won’t make Ron come back. I don’t want to remember the terror. But I do. I am not picking at the scab or trying to open the delicate scars. The memories and the feelings come unbidden. I will breathe. I will hug my girls. I will keep my eyes open. And I will ache, until the aching subsides.