Facing My Dreads

Yesterday was Saturday, typically a sadder day for me, but today I felt strong enough to face some of my fears. Or at least my dreads. Facebook has been threatening to switch me over to their new timeline format and today I decided to run toward my dread so I could get it out of my head. I wasn’t sure what photo I wanted to feature. I’d planned to use photos of my books, but since I used them for my page, I didn’t want to confuse the issue by using the same image for my profile. I’d played around with word art once, so I decided to use that. Spent a couple of hours getting it just right. So now I have timeline. And I have overcome one dread.

Then I decided to go after the big one. Watching a movie.

My life mate and I used to watch movies together — all kinds, from westerns to serial killer movies to comedy to romance. He taped hundreds of movies for us, and they’ve been packed away since his death two years ago. I just could not bring myself to watch the movies, especially the romantic ones because I knew how much it would hurt.

Flush with the success of overcoming the dreaded timeline, however, I decided to watch Notting Hill. I’d pulled it out of storage to view on the one-year anniversary of his death, planning to celebrate his life, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even put it away. The tape has been sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to watch for a year and two weeks. And it is again sitting on the shelf.

I put the tape in the VCR, watched for about forty-five minutes, and then came the gusher. Not just tears but sobs and gasps for breath and a yearning to see him one more time that clawed at me with a ferocity I haven’t felt in months.

I know two years isn’t that long, but I never imagined I would still have such upsurges of grief. Mostly I can handle being alone, though I do have times of gargantuan loneliness. I even have times now, such as when I’m focused on completing a task, where my missing him gets pushed into the background. And sometimes I can even look forward to the future. But the one thing I can never seem to get a grip on is the thought of his being dead. I have come full circle to a realization of how necessary it was for him to die. He was in such pain and could no longer function that continued life would have been torture. But even so, I hate knowing that he will never eat another meal. Never read another book. Never plant another tree. Never watch another movie.

I do still have the ability to watch movies, and someday I will finish watching this one.

Just not today.

7 Responses to “Facing My Dreads”

  1. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, your post was heart wrenching to read. I think most people have faced some form of grief, maybe not as proflund as yours, but that experience gives us humans the ability to empathize with others. You are a brave soul and truly an inspiration to all. Bless you. I know the day will come when you can watch that movie and feel the joy of remembering more than the sadness that it evokes.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Coco, I don’t feel brave. Sometimes it makes me very nervous to think of the vulnerability that shines through my posts. Still, I do believe it is important to show that it is possible not to run from grief.

      It’s kind of funny — Notting Hill was his favorite, not mine so much. (I’m not a fan of Julia Roberts.) I really thought I could do it. Still, even though I couldn’t watch the movie all the way through, I did overcome the dread. So that’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    Pat, I feel for you. I had one of those moments yesterday. I came across a journal of his and it took me by surprise.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, no. That must have been hard! I had to go through all J’s stuff shortly after he died, in preparation for a move, so I shouldn’t have to deal with any more of those surprises.

  3. Deborah Owen Says:

    You’re making progress, as I knew you would. Why don’t you try buying a new film? One that you haven’t watched together? Do that two or three times and later on, try one that you shared together. Progress comes in little steps. I’m happy to say that you’re sounding a little better. Wonderful!

  4. Joy Collins Says:

    Pat, I can definitely relate. Sometimes if I sit and think about what it really means for John to not be here, it shakes me to my core. It gives me an actual physical feeling in the pit of my stomach that really scares me. And fills me with the kind of dread you describe. And sometimes I cry just as you described. It’s not a usual “normal” cry. It’s a wounded animal, gut wrenching wail. I don’t even know where it comes from except that it must be a part of our soul that is connected to something very primitive and basic. Yesterday/today is 99 weeks. John died during the night and I never know when that time should be marked. Except as you mentioned before, the body knows and this morning I woke up with horrible stomach pains and nausea. Grieving is very hard work.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s the thing that still gets me, Joy — that sickening realization of why he isn’t here. It’s truly a jolt out of normal day reality and sends me into another reality where death is very real and not just something we pay lip service to. I will be sending you good thoughts today. As you say, grieving is very hard work. It amazes me that any of us survive.


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