My husband died. Suddenly. Horribly. I will always be able to recall the image of his face at the moment when I knew there was nothing anyone could do. I was losing him and there was nothing I, or anyone else, could do.
So this is grief. Intense. Lonely. Painful. Horrible grief. I’ve had time to think about this. I’ve had no one to sit with me. I’ve had no one to counter my wandering thoughts or give me feedback. My poor children are 22 and 25 and they are trying to work and build lives in this frightening economy. They are young and building relationships, looking for, waiting for their one true love. And they are trying to help me through this.
But what is there to get through? Where am I trying to go? Healing Hearts is the name of the widow(er)s group I go to and have formed an odd attachment to but we’ve already been told and admitted to ourselves that we will not heal all the way. So what are we reaching for?
Anwers? There aren’t any. The questions are even vague and fluctuate with our pain or frustration at our day-to-day lives.
Hope? It’s for us to define and decide on how to get attain it. And if we’ve arrived found it or ever will. And isn’t the idea of hope in and of itself hope? But what do I hope for? That he will come back? He can’t. It would also be an insult to God and God is the last person, entity, Supreme Being, sigh, I don’t want to insult God. He holds my husband.
I have wicked thoughts, nightmarish thoughts and though I tried once at the widow(er)s group to express them, I was cut off and the questions squelched quickly. They are not for the faint of heart.
Which brings me to my crisis of faith. Does He have my husband’s soul? I pray every morning and every night to the God I was raised with. I pray to the God I saw perform one miracle in an oncology ward when I was twenty. It wasn’t a miracle for me but I witnessed it and that was enough. But now that my husband has died and I have sat with his still body, touched his lifeless hand and talked to deaf ears, I am stumbling in the dark. Is he in Heaven, awake and alive, no longer hurting, no longer tired? Does he remember me or is he protected from those memories? Does he still love me? Does he know I still love him? Will I, indeed, see him again? Grief asks.
I’m terrified that death is like going to sleep. We know nothing. We are in a sense gone. Do we wait until the end of the world as some interpret scripture and then we’ll all be standing before God for judgment? Do I have to line up and wait to see if my bad thoughts, any lies I’ve told will keep me from Heaven? Will keep me from my husband? What? What happens? How do I keep faith that everything will be okay when the only person who helped it be okay here has been taken? How can I not when the opposite of that belief means that he has died and is nothing and I will die and will be nothing and we will never see each other again? That would be Hell.
Am I mad at God? No, not really. My husband’s body hurt from all his years as a soldier. The medications he took for pain and for arthritis would drop a horse. His mind was at peace because I told him over and over and over how proud and honored I was to be with him, how much I love him, and that he was most certainly a hero. He no longer hurts. But where is he?
So there’s some of the questions that have been unasked out loud since the moment the nurse walked me into the room where they had put him, quiet, a sterile white sheet up across his shoulders, his face so still, and his eyes forever closed.
I was told at the widows group that I am standing in one place, not moving forward. Where do I move? Where am I supposed to go? Does it really, seriously, really get better than this right now?
I’ve laughed since my husband’s death and I don’t feel the heavy burden of guilt for it. If it strikes me funny, I laugh. I cry every day. Not always for him. Sometimes I’ve cried because the money is so tight and I’ve been hungry. I cry because I’m scared. I cry because I physically hurt. I have a broken hand that was refused medical care because I have no insurance and it has healed wrong. I have possible bone chips floating in one knee, just south of the patella. And I have a heel that was hit by an iron U-boat that was carrying over 125 pounds of boxes. I am sometimes in agonizing pain. If I had money I would go to a doctor and a dentist.
If I had money I would buy me a small place with a fenced back yard for my two Scotties and I would paint, write, sew, take photographs, design and build my stained glass windows, and carve wood. I would create all the visions I have in my head in all the mediums I think would bear them out the best. My daughter calls me a renaissance artist. I just see things alive in different ways. Glass is fragile and geometric. It can only be cut a certain way so the design has to be considered with this in mind. Sewing. It’s tactile and soft and can become alive with color. I’ve also discovered, or rather other people have discovered my abilities with a needle and my emotions. I make memory quilts and try to capture a life that once was for the solace of the receiver of the quilt. Paintings? Oils or gauche and watercolors. I paint what I see and then I insert my altered perception of what I see. They are considered realism but it is my realism that I give to people and they never know it. And I write. I have four books almost finished, a thriller, a ghost story, a politically incorrect social satire, and one horror.
So you see? I have interests. I have things to do. I’m not stagnating in a world of depression or wallowing in tears. But I do hurt, badly. I miss him more than I have words and on this site, I’ve written a lot of words about grief and him.
So what do the grieving expect out of life? I see widows in the group who talk like pros but don’t seem to be really any further along though everyone tells me they are. It’s in their eyes. It’s in their statements, and their questions, and in their assurances that things are “okay.” I can hear it. I can see it. Body language doesn’t lie. They all have that certain loneliness that can only be defined as the realization that the person they were committed to spending their life with has died. Whether six years or forty-five years of marriage, the depth of the bond was the same. Total and complete love for this person and now they are in some mysterious place that we cannot go yet. And maybe will be just as forever gone from us as we will be to our children and family when we die and realize, there might not be any place to go.
And that is what is tormenting me, because I want to find another miracle. I want my faith back to where it was when my mother and then my baby died. I want some kind of assurance that this isn’t it. That this painful life with that one brief period of peace and happiness that I had with my husband wasn’t all I got after all the years of being beaten.
I want to know that I will get to hold his hand and touch his crinkles beside his eyes, and feel his arms go around me and hear him whisper, “I’ll always be here for you.”