“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.” ~ Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
I recently read of a widow writing about her husband’s “not here-ness.” Yes, that’s it. When you lose your person, their not here-ness is everywhere.
My stepmom said she’ll get a backhoe to clean out my dad’s stuff if he dies first.
My sister and I, who’ve both lost our favorite person, agreed with my stepmom the way a parent agrees with a child when they tell you what they’re going to do when they grow up. “Maybe,” we both said.
My sister spent years voicing her lack of enthusiasm for her husband’s accumulation of things—stuffed animals, cars, model cars. I always thought she was the backhoe bulldoze type gal. I think she did, too. Until he died.
There’s no way of knowing how you’ll feel when your favorite person dies. Even if you’ve lost loved ones before. Each loss is as different as each relationship.
We think we know because we’ve played grief’s game before or because we’ve stood witness to other widows.
Just as a person who hasn’t owned a dog, been pregnant, raised kids, been married, or attended college cannot fully know until they go through the metamorphosis life invites and throws us into, one cannot know if she’ll find herself territorial over one striped chipped coffee cup that used to belong to her beloved.
You learn love by loving. You learn loss by losing. Over and over.
In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Anna’s husband Alexey Alexandrovitch “experienced a feeling akin to a man on a bridge who should suddenly discover that bridge is broken, and that there is a chasm below.”
Yes, that’s endings: divorce, break-ups, death. With death, especially sudden death, the bridge is on fire, burned irrevocably.
Yet, our desire to cross isn’t extinguished. In fact, our ache to walk with our special person intensifies, with them on the other side of the chasm.
My beloved tells me he’s just in another room. I feel like it’s true, as true as my wanting him to get out of that room and come into mine, or to join him.
I’m fortunate to have continued communication with my beloved in the beyond. I’m grateful. And yet, I don’t have his arms.
It’s not a matter of believing. It’s too real—and specifically Kevin, a one of a kind character, with an unmatched vocabulary and way of speaking—to not believe.
It’s just that I was in the middle of life’s summer. A confidence had settled in my soul, the kind born of sacred love, from being the match for his Fire.
It was easy to let go and love him and welcome him to love me.
But, to release my beloved into the hands of death? I’m not thrilled about it—still.
He’s gone. And he’s here.
The question is will I keep knocking on the door to the other room, the one I’m not yet invited to enter, or will I accept he’s gone and relish his new presence?
Can I welcome a transition of our relationship—again?
Accepting physical death (regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs and the sacred occurrences) is much like forgiving betrayal.
It takes a while.