Building Hopes and Creating Dreams

And so ends the worst year of my life.

Last year was a time of soul-shattering loss, grief, and strange blessings. It was a time of despair and self-realization, transition and adjustment. But of course, you know all that — I’ve made no secret of my ordeal, chronicling every painful stage of my journey. Many people endure worse traumas than the death of a soul mate, and they continue living without whimpering, which has made me feel a bit self-indulgent and whiny with my grief bloggeries, yet that was never my intention. The impact of grief after a major loss seems to be one more thing that has been discounted in our discount culture, and I simply wanted to tell the truth.

Oddly, I still don’t know the truth of it. It seems unreal at times. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she still feels broken nine months after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds?

I’ve always considered myself a passionless woman, so how can that woman be me? During periods when I don’t feel the weight of his absence (I never feel his presence, though sometimes his absence feels normal, as if he’s simply in another room), during periods of emotional calm, my stoic side rules, making my grief feel fake, as if it’s something I’m doing to make myself seem important. Yet other times the desperate need to go home to him, to see him one more time, claws at me, tearing me apart.

Making the situation even more unreal, I can barely remember what he looked like — I do not think in images, so it’s understandable (though distressing) that I have no clear image of him in my mind. Even worse, I don’t have a photo that matches what I remember of him. (The only one I have was taken fifteen years ago.)

Nor do I have a clear sense of time. Sometimes it feels as if he died just a couple of months ago. Sometimes it feels like years. The demarcation between our shared life and my solitary life was once so stark it was like the edge of a cliff. All I could see was the past and what I had lost. The living I have done in the past nine months has blurred that edge, adding to the sense of unreality.

I have learned much this year. I learned the importance of importance. If there is nothing of importance in your life, you have to find something and make it important. I learned the importance of goals, even if it’s only the goal of getting through one more day. I learned the importance of hope, though hope for what I still don’t know, but that is part of the journey – building hopes, creating dreams, finding reasons to live.

And so begins a new year.

9 Responses to “Building Hopes and Creating Dreams”

  1. Karen Says:

    Dear Pat~though a few months behind you in this grief journey, I can relate to so many things that you say, especially things I can’t seem to verbalize myself until I read your blog and say “ahhhh, that’s it”…thank you for sharing. I wish you peace this new year and I hope that 2011 will be a healing year for both of us…Karen

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Karen, I too hope that 2011 will be a healing year for both of us. It’s such a long, hard journey, and I have a hunch it never ends — we just end up getting used to the situation.

  2. joylene Says:

    I really admire people who can listen to what you’re saying and then reply with some brief statement that leaves you feeling better. I don’t have that gift. All I can do is listen.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joylene, of course you have that gift. You have no idea how much your comments have helped these past months. And though sometimes your words brought tears, you always made me feel better, and I know you did the same for others who read your comments. Thank you so very much for participating in my grief blogs. May this be a peaceful year for both of us.

  3. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    I appreciate your undertaking the task of expressing your grief. Imagining grief and experiencing grief are vastly different. For those writers that wish to create a character suffering grief, your writing on the subject is invaluable. You have dissected your grief and made a study of all its aspects. For anyone wishing to know what grief feels like, I would recommend your blog. Blessings to you, Pat…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Carol. Finding the words has helped me deal with the pain and the absurdity of going through the stages again and again. It’s been an added bonus that others have found comfort in my words.

  4. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    I hope this new year will be a better one for you, Pat — one filled with increasing optimism and opportunities. May your good memories outnumber the painful ones and bring with them a new kind of contentment.

  5. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Your comment about images reminded me of when my Dad was in hospital when I was a kid. I suddenly found I couldn’t picture him in my mind and threw a fit. Of course, everyone said I was being silly, but it came as such a huge shock to me. Dad came home after six weeks and all was well, but I’ve made a conscious effort to be make sure I can picture everyone every since.

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