One of the things they never tell you is that, in the midst of the grief, and wanting to spend the rest of your days lying in bed, is that life has to go on. The death of a loved one carries with enough paperwork to drown oneself, if one should so choose such a death. Wills, or lack thereof when something happens so suddenly. Pension funds. Life insurance. Immigration (yes, we were in the middle of an international move). Jobs. Rent. Bank accounts. The ones that hurt me the most were the ones that seemed to confirm that indeed, he would not be coming back. No more ESPN Insider and ESPN the Magazine. No more Kindle Unlimited. No more Spotify Premium. I would have gladly paid for those things forever, if it meant that he could also come back and use them one day. The other things, funeral costs, arrangements, these are just theoretical in my mind. They are the things people do when someone dies. Canceling the bits and pieces of a life are the hardest to bear. He won’t yell at the tv when a quarterback bungles a play, and then immediately check online what Sportscenter has to say. He won’t tell me to listen to a new band he heard on Spotify. He won’t read books anymore. These are the things for the living, and he won’t need them. I briefly consider keeping the accounts open. Maybe it means that our lives have not changed and everything that has happened until now has just been a farce, a pretend play of fictional death. But then you call and click cancel, and go back to your mountain of papers. Life goes on, taxes go on, and these are the things for the living.
I find that the worst days are the ones that start with the Peter dream. They are when I wake up with tears streaming down my face, alone and scared in the dark. Those are the days that I fear death, and I fear what Peter might have gone through. The first time it was a normal dream, one filled with the daily comings and goings that I was so used to, less than just 3 weeks ago. He came out of the front door as I was walking in. He didn’t understand why I was kissing him, why I was crying. The second dream, this morning, was us holding each other, laughing and making jokes. I made a stupid joke, just like the ones he always made and he laughed with the corners of his eyes crinkled, a peek at the older man he will never get to be. I leaned in and said, “You made me so happy. I hope you know that.” And the dream was done – cut short like our life together.
When my husband died, I wondered if grief was linear. Would it go from the absolute height of despair eventually into a numbness that would allow me to keep going? When all the baby steps I took towards actually doing normal human things meant that my grief would also take baby steps and disappear? I’m finding that grief is in fact not linear. There are times when I can watch movies of happy couples, and even touch his clothes without breaking down. There are other times when the very idea that less than 2 weeks ago, he had taken off his clothes, crawled into bed, woke up, and sat on the couch for the last time kills me afresh. That tableau is still in some ways frozen in this house. The clothes he wore are still in a small, neat pile next to the drawers. His contacts are still in their case on the bathroom counter. His watch and necklace are still on his nightstand, exactly as he had lain them the night before.
What I found strange, having only considered what I would do in such situations purely as speculation, is that I was able to laugh in places. I thought, without Peter, I would never laugh, never eat, never do the things I enjoyed. Nothing I do is without a tinge of sadness or a taste of the bittersweet.
I hate the word blog because it sounds so vain, so narcissistic. This is not my blog, but my way of reminding myself, maybe one day down the road, when the sine wave of my grief is at a valley and I feel guilt that I dared to feel joy without my husband, that I once lived in this place, that tableau, and all the daily struggles of surviving were once mine.