It’s winter and I’m sitting in my cozy chair with the footstool and saying to myself: “I own this house. Bob left me in charge and it’s been six years since he died.” I look up to the four long clerestory windows that let in the sunlight. I feel sad and try to figure out why, on this particular moment, sorrow has come wafting back into me once again.
Suddenly these thoughts materialize. “Did he feel a sadness as he was leaving the house in an ambulance that would take him to hospice? Did he realize it was the last time he would be there?” I felt the sorrow shroud me. We never had a real conversation about what his death would be like. He didn’t say many of the things I wish he had. Like the lines you hear in the movies. Instead he was silent, all his strength waning, all his words lying as dormant as his body was becoming.
Grief can never be fully put into words. Because love is not about the words. It’s about the music. There is a dirge in my heart as I allow myself to remember the devastation that I felt and still feel at times. We were deeply in love and yet we put distances between us to minimize the sorrow. I know that. We each built walls to keep the other’s walls from toppling over. I know he would have liked to reach out to me more than he did. I would be living without him. Soon his clothes would no longer hang in the closet and I would quickly fill up the space they used to take. That is a woman’s dream–to have enough closet space. I kept his robe for a while and would put my face against it and it would end up wiping my tears away.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you should get over your sorrow. Yes, it waxes and wanes, but the love inside is never deleted and thrown in the trash. I am getting older without him. There will be no more back rubs on a cold winter’s night or his pills to put in the little box or a certain look on his face that said it all. “I am leaving you now; I will always love you.” And then I had a dream visitation where he said, “Your prayers are written on the wall of my heart everyday.” Amen.
So how do I move beyond grief? If I try, I will be using mental effort, which is not a power. I move beyond it by being it in the moment. I go with it, loving myself for re-experiencing the loss of someone significant in my life. Gone forever, not coming back, not here to fix things, to comfort me. I am not cast down but lifted up by love.
Love is holding me like a jewel in the palm of its hand. It is regarding me with infinite grace, encouraging me to bloom into my full soul beauty. It has been a rough and harrowing road, but there are also moments of sublimity. When I sit and write easily of both love and death. When I know that my path is unique to me and unfolding exactly as it should. If you are grieving or fearing loss, there is not a thought in the world that will heal you. That is the lesson in grief. Thought is for practical things; for the spirit, awareness is needed.
I move around my house empty of a husband. I fit it snugly these days. It’s cedar siding is full of bird holes and I fear the arrival of the pileated woodpecker that can do damage in minutes. I would not be so aware of the house if I still had a husband to be “in charge.” That was his job; the outside of the house, the car and yard maintenance. I was the cook and shopper, the bill payer. And we lived side by side in the mystery.
We balanced each other and now I must balance myself. My masculine side is called in when boards are damaged, when the car needs air in the tires. I am learning to live more practically. But because I am alone, I am more in tune with what God would have me do. I write more because I have more time. I share myself with readers in an intimate way. I am not here to teach anyone anything. I am here because the river flows and I am going with it, not against it. What does love have to teach but letting go and entering the flow?