I’m still struggling with the sense of loss that the death of my long time mate created in me. It’s not just that I lost him — I feel as if I’ve lost a sense of reality, a sense of my reality.
During the first months of almost unbearable pain, I felt that the situation itself was unreal. Part of me couldn’t believe he was dead (though I knew he was — I watched him die). It seems strange now, but accompanying the disbelief was a belief that something wonderful would soon happen to me, perhaps because I needed to believe good would come to balance the unbelievable wrongness of his absence. I no longer hold myself tensed against the reality of his death (though it does still tear through me at times), but I also no longer have that sense of an imminent good. What I’m left with is a feeling of waiting, though I don’t know what I’m waiting for.
This feeling of being in limbo seems to be a common stage of grief for those of us past the first year. So many of us are struggling with it, trying to find . . . a new reality, perhaps.
I’m not a sentimental person. I seldom kept keepsakes and I never chronicled my life with photos, but now I do both to prove to myself that yes, I am alive, and yes, I am doing something with my years. I’ve recently started a scrapbook of paper memories. Perhaps someday I will feel a sense of reality again, but if I don’t, I can look at the book and know the truth of it. I am real.