I was texting with a new friend yesterday about life’s struggles and challenges. Her daughter (and only child) is heading off to college this month and she’s facing lots of changes in her life. I told her the best advice I got when John died was to “feel all the feels” and lean into them, even if it was painful. She said my story inspired her and, since I hadn’t yet, I sent her the link to this blog. I told her to start at the beginning (you can scroll down and click on the link to do that) if she wanted to read our whole story. She thanked me and said she needed some inspiration right now.
I responded, “It’s an inspiring story but spoiler alert…the hero dies in the end.” As I stepped into the shower after sending that text, the floodgates opened and I had what they call in my grief support group, a “grief storm.” They hit me less frequently but still like a hurricane when they come, blowing through my day, out of control and yet controlling me. They only last a little while and then they’re gone, but just like a hurricane, often the devastation they leave behind takes me some time to clean up.
When I am hit with this type of grief and I cry, I don’t recognize the sound. It’s a wailing, keening, utterly painful cry that comes from somewhere inside me I’d never tapped into before John died. The first time I heard myself cry that way was about five minutes after John took his last breath, as I sat on the stairs holding his daughter Chelsey, trying to comfort her through my own unbearable grief, and finally letting go of all I’d been holding on to for so many months as we fought through the end of John’s life. It all came out in huge, loud, messy, uncontrollable sobs that lasted about ten minutes. And every time it’s happened since, I’m still a little amazed at the sound of it, so unfamiliar and anguished that it catches me off guard.
This week I cried because I’m finally here, in my new home, settling in alone. I cried because the sale of my Walla Walla home had come through on Thursday and that stressful time was finally over, along with that part of my life. It was a bittersweet realization. I cried because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone but I also won’t settle in order to NOT be alone.
But mostly, I cried because I miss my husband and best friend. So much, every single day. Even in a new place with no actual “memories” of him tied to my house or surroundings other than the pictures I’m hanging, I still just miss him and the way I felt when I was with him. Finding someone who accepts you for who you are (in fact, loves you because of it and not in spite of it) and who makes your life sweet and fun and happy just by being in it is a huge gift. I never took it for granted but it makes me miss it even more for having had it.
Yesterday, I was sharing some of this with my friend Scott, and I told him about the text conversation. He corrected me about the hero dying in the end. From his perspective, the hero died in the middle of the story, and now I’m writing the ending. He’s right. It’s an ongoing process and I’m learning from every step of the journey. #lovetrumpscancer #livelikejohnny