Today is the one month anniversary of John’s death. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been walking through the world without him for an entire month. It’s been a month of difficult firsts, lots of gut-wrenching tears, and getting to know a new version of myself whom I’d never met before. I’ve been sick for half of the time, so that’s colored my experience as well. I’m still not sure if the fatigue I’m feeling is because I’ve been sick or because I’ve been grieving. Probably a little bit of both.
Last week I traveled by air for the first time since John died. I traveled a lot, mostly for work, during the first 4 years of our relationship before he got sick (and some after he was diagnosed as well). When I was traveling, he was my anchor, someone who tracked my progress and with whom I checked in before each takeoff and landing. He was the one I called at the end of the day, sharing all of my adventures and hearing about the mundane, ordinary things that happened at home when I wasn’t there. We never went to bed without saying I love you, even when I was sleeping in a different time zone.
I don’t just miss being with him, I miss knowing who I was in the world even when I wasn’t with him. I picked up the phone to call or text him at least a dozen times last week. He wasn’t just my love and my husband, he was also my best friend and the first one I always wanted to share everything with. So I felt a bit lost last week. And sad.
The thing is, everyone keeps telling me that he’s still with me, that he’s walking beside me every minute. I want to believe that more than anything in the world but it’s not easy. There’s no evidence that he’s there, no signs recognized or overwhelming feelings of his presence. No feathers raining down from heaven or random birds or butterflies making an odd appearance in my day. Not a single sign since the dream I had the weekend after he passed where he told me there was nothing but love where he was, enough love for 10 husbands.
I’ve had other dreams of him, but they aren’t comforting or pleasant. They’re scary and distressing. I can never reach him in these dreams and he’s usually in peril or, worse, dead. We are always disconnected and there’s a weird overlay of reality and what’s actually happening in the dream. Like, he has a body in the dream but then my conscious mind says, “Um, no he doesn’t…he was cremated.” I’ll be glad when these dreams stop.
A life coach at the event I was at last week told me that my job right now is to be sad. Getting a vision for my future or setting any sort of goals beyond the basics of survival is not realistic. I have to just be okay with being sad, with crying at the most unexpected moments and waking up feeling hopeless some days. I’ve never been a sad person. I’ve never had a lot of patience for sad people. I’ve always powered through and, as my mom would say, “pulled myself up by my bootstraps” and carried on. I’ve gotten over it and focused on what’s next. If there’s one thing that’s become clear to me in the past month, it’s that I’m not going to be getting over this anytime soon. So I better just relax and be okay with being sad.
I’m heading back to Walla Walla tomorrow and am determined to create a routine and schedule for myself. I’m getting back to work with my personal trainer 3 days a week and getting up and walking my dog on the days I’m not working out. I’m getting back to work with two launches in the next two months and a new business venture. I’m making plans with friends and going to yoga once a week. I have a long “to do” list for getting my house ready to rent this summer so I can move back to the Portland area once Eli graduates in June and moves out. I’ll be driving 500 miles round trip every week to sing with my Sweet Adelines chorus in Portland.
I’m hoping my life will feel a bit normal again, but I know I’ll be doing all of these things while embracing my new, temporary job of being sad. That may mean I don’t feel like working out or going to lunch or creating a landing page that day, and I have to be okay with that. Old me, meet new (temporary) me.
The hardest part about this new job will be giving myself permission to do it. To feel sad so I can feel better. I’ve always been an overachiever, so I’m hoping that kicks in and allows me to really, REALLY embrace the sad, move through it, and get to the other side healthy and different.
Because I know I’ll never be the same.