I found myself crying yesterday morning. Nothing major, just a few tears and a desperate plea for forgiveness from my life mate/soul mate. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I wailed, as if I had done something to make him leave me and now I’m left to suffer the consequences. I did nothing, of course, and he didn’t leave me — he died. But somewhere in the depths of my being, I cannot process his death. I witnessed his last days, weeks, hours. I was there for his last breath. I saw the nurses clean him, wrap him in a white blanket shroud. Accompanied the gurney out to the hearse (a black SUV, actually). Watched the SUV drive away. Picked up his ashes several days later. There is no doubt in my mind he is dead. And yet . . . and yet . . .
I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago that there is an element of blank when it comes to death, a non-comprehension of what it means for him to be so very gone from this earth. I must have assumed that his death would feel as if he’s in another room, or out running errands, or some such. But it doesn’t feel like that at all. It feels like there’s a massive void where once he lived in my mind, my heart.
Last night, when I got the final proof of my grief book, I starting sobbing because the reality of his death really struck home. As I wrote to a bereft friend, “I haven’t cried this long for many weeks, but now I can’t stop crying. All of a sudden it is too damn real. He never is coming back, is he? It really is over. I feel as if I have been playing at grief these past months, and now playtime is finished, and real life begins. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”
I knew he wasn’t coming back. I accepted that he was dead from the moment he died. But there’s been something unreal about my grief. I am not an emotional person. I’m very staid and down-to-earth, but his death rocketed me out of myself into another persona, and last night I felt as if I’m settling back into my old self. And he is dead for real.
How many times can one man die? When it comes to grief, apparently there are more deaths than one, and we grieve for every single one of them. Knowing that Grief: The Great Yearning is finished, knowing that our story has been told and that it even has an ending, has brought the truth home to me on a deeper level than ever before. No more waiting for him to call to tell me I can come home. No more hoping to meet him for a mountain rendezvous or a swim in a north country lake. There’s just me, now, and the memories that haunt me.
And I am so very sorry that he is gone.