C. S. Lewis
It has been ninety days since I last held my husband’s hand. Since I last felt his touch and his warmth. It has been ninety days of unwanted solitude, loneliness, bitterness, anguish and pure mental and physical pain.
It has been ninety days since I was broken.
Ninety days of trying desperately to hide from a bleak future where every day is a struggle to just get through minute by minute, second by second.
Ninety days of not being able to wake up from this nightmare.
Ninety days for me to realize that this is not a nightmare, but reality.
Ninety days for me to recognize that this is now my life.
Seems like so few when written like that but an infinity when experienced.
Ninety days sounds like a jail sentence for a first time offender, except that my sentence is life without parole and I did nothing wrong.
Now I think it is starting to sink in that my husband will never come back. And it is painful. Mentally, emotionally, physically. I feel myself losing strength, mourning his death all over again because my magical thinking box has been opened and all of those wonderful daydreams of his return are escaping one by one.
It doesn’t help that our anniversary is coming up this Saturday.
I try and shy away from thoughts of his never returning, but I keep poking them, like when you poke at a sore tooth with your tongue. You know it’s going to hurt, but you just can’t stop from doing it. So I poke a little at the thought of never seeing him again, then the tears well up, my body hunches over, I feel like I’m dropping into a pit, so I quickly divert myself from that thought. Only to prod it again a few minutes later.
Almost as if testing to see if I am ready for that thought to develop fully.
The worst part is the repitiveness.
My friends and family want to help, but all I can do is feel the same thing over and over again. I find myself talking about anything and everything when I am with them so as not to talk about what I really want to. How much I miss my husband and how much I hate this nightmare.
Every day is the same thing, I miss him, I want him back, I need him. It’s even repetitive to myself. I’m in an endless loop that I can’t break free of. If I am tired of feeling the same thing day after day, of course others would be tired of hearing it day after day.
I know why I’m in this loop. It’s nothing more exotic than basic fear. Fear of a bleak future of solitude. Fear of encountering something I can’t handle alone. Fear of growing old and feeble with no husband beside me to support each other. Fear of waking up one day and deciding that I can’t live like this anymore. But mostly, fear of going through each day for the rest of my life in pain. Not physical pain, I can handle that. I do it every day until it has become a norm for me. But emotional pain this deep is something I’m not used to. I don’t know if I can make it a norm.
I’ve had deaths in my family. My oldest brother, my mother, all within a few years of each other. But none have impacted me as much as my husband’s. My mother, although tragic and I miss her terribly, was expected. You know as an adult that eventually you will lose your parents. You are somewhat prepared. My brother, he was in poor health, so once again it was something I always kept in the back of my mind.
But my husband was a shock. We had plans, we were supposed to grow old together, we were supposed to be forever. And suddenly that was all ripped away. This is a pain that is so deep that it will never close over. Hopefully, eventually, I will develop enough scar tissue over it that will allow me to eat and sleep normally again, but it might not.
And that brings up another fear. A fear that I will move on beyond my husband. A fear that I will regulate him to the ever growing list of regrets and what ifs and should ofs. Where his memory will just be that, a memory with little or no feeling behind it.
It’s an irrational fear, but fear is irrational.
The human mind is very good at protecting itself. And I’m afraid that one day, in its own self-defense, my mind will wall up this teeming cesspool of pain and emotions which would, at the same time, wall up the love I had for him. I’m afraid that my mind, in self-preservation, will deem my daily exhaustion and dullness as reason to cut me off of my emotions all together.
Someone once said, “With great love, comes great pain.” I now know that is true. The greater the love, the greater the pain and I can’t imagine anyone loving each other more than my husband and I did. So to keep the love I had for him, I have to accept the pain, no matter how unbearable.
If I wall off the pain, push it aside, hide from it, try and tear it out, then I will also be doing that to the love, the feelings of security, of oneness I had with him. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. So I try to balance on that narrow ledge between despair and hope. Playing little games with my mind to keep it from saving me from myself. To keep the fear at bay.
That might be another reason I keep poking at the thought of never being with him, never seeing him again. To remind myself, not just of the hurt, but of the love we had.