My fourth book, Light Bringer, is going to be released later this month. I thought this would be an auspicious time, a time of endings and new beginnings. March is the two-year anniversary of my being published, it’s the anniversary of my birth, and it’s the first anniversary of my soul mate’s death. What I didn’t take into consideration is how emotional this month would be. I mean, I’ve had almost a year to get used to his death. I should be over it by now, right? Apparently not.
After his death, I told myself, “If you can just get through the first month, you’ll be fine.” I wasn’t. So then I told myself, “After the third month, you’ll be fine.” The months passed, and I still grieved, so I told myself, “After six months . . .” And, “after a year.” I’m nearing that first anniversary, but I don’t seem to be completely shedding my grief. Grief follows its own time. It will not, cannot be rushed. Even worse, I seem to be keyed into this same month last year — the final month of his life — and I feel as if I’m counting down to his death . . . again. The big difference is that last year I did not give in to emotion — at least not much and not until the end. His care was all that mattered. Well, I’m feeling now what I didn’t feel then. And just like last year, nothing I do can make him well.
This will be my first birthday without him, and oddly, it saddens me. We didn’t celebrate our birthdays. Sometimes we acknowledged them, sometimes we didn’t, but they were no big deal, just a change of numbers, so I’ve been wondering why this birthday troubles me, and tonight I figured it out. This is one of one of the big 0 birthdays, the one where you can no longer fool yourself into thinking you are still young (even the actuarial tables acknowledge this one as a major change). And here’s the kicker: my mate and I will not be growing old together. There will be no walking hand-in-hand in our twilight years, no reminiscing about our youth, no helping each other overcome the infirmities of age. “The end” has been written on our love story.
If that weren’t enough trauma for one month, Light Bringer is his memorial — his funeral service, obituary, epitaph — all rolled into one. Perhaps I shouldn’t imbue the book with such significance, but it is the culmination of two lifetimes of study — his and mine. It’s the last book he helped me edit, the last one I read to him from beginning to end. Once the book has been launched, it no longer belongs to us — to him and me. It belongs to anyone who reads it. And so one more piece of him will be gone from my life.
I’d hoped to be able to give the book a good send-off, but it’s hard to think of fun, innovative ways to promote when I’m constantly reminded that he won’t be here to help me celebrate. And it is something to celebrate. (Heck, I’m even going to celebrate my birthday!) So, here I am, at the beginning of this auspicious month, standing tearfully on the cusp of . . . what? I don’t know.
March 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm
I posted a blog very similar to yours. My best friend died when I was only eight years old. That best friend was my father. I’m 21 now, and this will be the 13th birthday that I’ve been without him. No matter how old you get or how many years go by, the grief never completely goes away. There are times even now that I find a picture or a song that meant something special between father and daughter. It only takes a second and I’m in tears screaming at God asking him why he had to leave me. The feeling of loss never goes away. It only gets easier to deal with. Maybe for some it vanishes completely. Then again, some people heal more quickly than others. It took my mom about 2-3 years before she decided that she needed to move on with her life because she didn’t want to be alone. Has she forgotten my father? No. He still holds a special place in her heart just as he does in mine. He will forever be here, in spirit and in memories.
As for the book that you believe will no longer be yours and his, I don’t believe that. You are sharing something wonderful with the world. They may have the words that you chose to put down on paper, but only you carry the true memories and meaning and love. That is something that only you can truly cherish and understand.
Forgive me if I overstepped my bounds. I have a tendency to ramble from time to time. I hope that maybe something that I’ve written will help you. If not, then I am terribly sorry for wasting your time.
March 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm
Samigirl, of course you didn’t overstep your bounds. And no, you didn’t ramble or waste anyone’s time. Your words are spot on. It’s always good to meet others who share this journey, and it’s even better to know that it is possible to continue to live despite the devastating loss.
Thank you for your comment about the book. You’re right. The book will be shared, but the mornings I read to him what I wrote the night before, the editorial suggestions he made, the fun we had with the characters are mine alone.
March 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm
You are standing on the cusp of new beginnings filled with loving memories of what you two shared together. Just because your latest novel will be published doesn’t mean another piece of him is gone. His words, his love, his attention to your work is on every page. He lives on through your work. He will always be in your work, in your writing. In your walks together. His body may be gone but his spirit is still with you. If he were here with you, he would be so proud of you. Hold on to that and keep it close to your heart. I’m sure it is what he would want for you.
March 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm
Jen, I hope you are right that he is proud of me. I sometimes wonder if he appalled by my tears, my rage, my yearnings. And yet, he does admire courage, and somehow I am muddling through this alternative universe called grief. Thank you for your words. I will hold them close to my heart.
March 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm
I’ve followed along with you on this journey of yours, this year of grief, of discovery, of loss, of love. I’ve admired your courage, your ability to communicate your feelings and I’ve often spoke of my admiration in my comments.
I have to confess something to you. I also suffer from a form of jealousy toward you and the intense love you shared with your mate. I’ve never,no never, felt that kind of love for a mate. I don’t of course envy you the loss of him but the love you had with him! How wonderfully lucky you and he both were to have each other. Not so many people have that gift in their lives.
I know your grief has been nearly crippling, bu never quite, because of your strength and courage. You’ve triumphed over your grief because you rise above it to keep on going, to share your feelings and to help others.
You have much to be proud of and I know your beloved mate is proud of you at this very moment.
Bless you sweetie.
March 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm
Wanda, I’m not sure there is anything to be envious about. Our connection didn’t bring us much happiness, especially in later years, but that never mattered, at least not to me. That we were together was the important thing. Oddly, that connection bewildered us — we never quite what it was all about. We seldom even called it love, but what else could it be? And yet . . . you’re right, not everyone gets to experience that bond. It is something to be thankful for — that I had him with me for all those days and weeks, months and years.
Thank you for your wonderful words and for your support during this bleak time. I have glimpses occasionally of light at the end of the grief tunnel, and I’m sure your belief in me is helping me reach that place.
March 9, 2011 at 5:42 am
Even in the midst of grief, I wonder what it’s like to be loved by a woman like that lucky man, in which you only bask, not being worried about whether you have earned what you are getting or whether you are capable of returning it.
So far as I see, death may have put a stop to the love story not the love.
To whatever Power up there is, I pray that that love remains but not the pain.
Well, uh, I read what I’ve written several times to make sure I haven’t written anything stupid. And I am finally posting it with the hope that if it all turns out to be crass and insensitive, I’d be forgiven.
March 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm
I sometimes wonder if it was a burden to him. He never chose the connection (though he did choose to stay with me) and I think it bewildered him at times. We both had always assumed we’d spend our lives alone, and yet, there was that connection that kept us together no matter what. I hope it brought him comfort, knowing I stayed with him to the end.
March 12, 2011 at 6:35 am
I’m sure that just knowing you were there was a comfort to him, just as your connection was a comfort to you.
I don’t think grief ever goes away. It’s not a thing, but rather a change within.
Even after these years watching my strong and healthy now six year old growing up, that piece inside me that crumbled and died the moment I found her as a toddler and thought she was dead has never grown back. I know that it never will. Even as she happily drives me to distraction and I try to not cling too desperately to her, that moment of grief has changed me forever.
Your grief is much deeper than mine and your loss is forever. All you can do is learn to live with it and take that brave step forward, one step at a time.
March 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm
In some ways, though, a piece of him–of of the two of you together–isn’t gone, it’s magnified. Everyone who reads the book will share a little bit of what he shared with you and what you shared with him.
March 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm
I don’t think I can say anything better than what your other guests have already said, Pat. Celebrate the milestone of this “-0” birthday, the achievement of Light Bringer’s publication, and know that your friends continue to support you and wish you well on your difficult journey.