I’m working on my grief book, typing up my grief journal entries. I thought this would be a book about grief, but it seems more like a love story, which is so very ironic. Soon after I met my life mate — my soul mate — I quit my job to write. I wanted to tell the story of a great love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with wisdom and beauty. I sat down to write, and . . . nothing. Back then, I thought all one had to do to write was to sit down, pen in hand, and let the words flow. Well the words didn’t flow. So I put off my dream of being a writer and went about the business of living. Years later, while going about the business of dying (his dying) I started writing again just to get out of my head, to get a respite from my life. I eventually learned how to write, but I always wrote slowly . . . until I started a grief journal and posthumous letters to my mate. Those flowed. And now it turns out that this grief book could be that love story I always wanted to tell. Life sure plays games with us!
Several people have told me they envied me my great love, but I’ve hesitated to tell the truth: it didn’t feel like love. We never had much of a romance. After a few brief years of hope and happiness, our love was sublimated by the constraints of his growing ill-health. It seemed that our cosmic love devolved into the prosaic things of life: cooking meals, doing errands, struggling to keep our retail business alive. And then it devolved further into simply surviving. Getting through the days as best as we could. We thought we’d stopped loving each other. We thought we were ready for the coming separation — he to death, me to life alone.
His hospice nurse, who got to know us both very well, told me she didn’t think he and I knew how much we loved each other. And apparently that was true. That mystifies me — how could we not have known? We always knew we had a deep connection, though we never understood it and at times we both railed against it in our struggle to maintain our own identities, but we took that connection for granted. And what is that connection if not love?
In my foolish youth, I thought I’d still be able to feel his presence when he was dead, but I only feel his absence, and maybe that’s enough to remind me that love is not all hearts and flowers and passion. It is not what you feel. It is what you do. It is being there for each other. And, until the very end, we always were.