Two Years, Two Months, Two Weeks, And Two Days of Grief

Two years, two months, two weeks, and two days. That’s how long my life mate/soul mate has been dead, and I still can’t make sense of it all — our meeting, the years we shared, his death, my continued life.

Neither of us had every expected (or wanted) to share a life with anyone, and yet we spent more than three decades together. Our meeting was almost miraculous. In a fit of loneliness, he wished he had someone, and the next week, I walked into his store. We started out with such hope, but our life together was no fairy tale. Much of it was wonderful, more vital than anything I could ever have imagined, yet we were trapped by various failures, not the least of which was his increasingly poor health. I was so tired of it all, so exhausted by trying to hold myself together, that a few times that last year I wished he’d die and get it over with. I never said it aloud, of course, but he knew. How could I have been so horrid? Shouldn’t I have been more patient? Wiser? Kinder? It’s a terrible thing, knowing I am not the woman I thought I was.

During the last few weeks of his life, we reconnected, and I remembered why I loved him.

And then he was gone.

I don’t understand how he can be dead. Well, obviously, I understand the biology of it — I watched him die a bit every day for a lot of years — but the man I knew in the form I knew is gone. Forever. I can’t wrap my mind around that. Even worse, I am forgetting him. My memories are drifting off-center, and I no longer feel the truth of him.

People used to tell me that he still exists in memory, but if so, he is dying a bit more every day. There could come a time when I don’t remember him, when I only remember his absence. I can feel it happening already. Some days now it seems as if he were a stranger I knew long ago rather than a person with whom I spent most of my waking hours for more than half my life. I don’t know whether I should cling to the memory of him, even if it is skewed, or if I should let the memory of him fade and simply deal with what life brings me every day.

I don’t understand my continued life, either. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she felt shattered into a thousand pieces after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds? All these months later, I still don’t know how to deal with his death. Don’t know why I continue to be sad. Don’t know why I feel his absence acutely when I barely remember him.

Mostly I’m trying to look at the future as an adventure, but I’ve had so many immense changes in my life in the past few years, with more on the way, that I feel as if I have no foundation to build on. That feeling, at least, is not true. I have the foundation of all I have done, all I have learned, all I have become — what I don’t have is certainty and security (though no one really does).

And most of all, what I don’t have is him. But perhaps I never did? It could be we were simply passing by and stopped to visit awhile before we continued our journeys. Alone.

8 Responses to “Two Years, Two Months, Two Weeks, And Two Days of Grief”

  1. Joy Collins Says:

    I am struggling along similar lines, Pat. Now that I am past the two year mark, I think it is finally sinking into my brain and heart that John is really gone. The sadness seems worse. It seems to have seeped into my very being and is a part of me all the time. I just feel this profound sense of loss that is like nothing I have ever felt before. This man who knew me for half of my life, who was my best friend, who loved me as no one else did or will, who understood me as no one ever did or will, is gone. G.O.N.E. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.
    I feel so lost.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joy, I waited for two years, thinking that in two years I’d be mostly over my grief, and in a way I am — I’ve assimilated grief into my life, so it’s no longer a thing to “get over.” The sense of loss is still there, and probably always will be, and my yearning for him is just as great as ever.

      I still find it hard to believe we’ve lasted two years feeling this way.

  2. Susan Whitfield Says:

    My heart goes out to both of you. My husband and I will celebrate our 45th anniversary in September and with all of my arthritis issues, we decided to take a road trip across the country and not wait until our 50th. If we make it to 50th together, we’ll celebrate that. I’d be lost without him. He’s my best friend. Hugs to both of you! May each day be better than the previous one.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Susan, I’m glad you’ll be taking that trip now. If there is anything I have learned from this it’s that being together is all that’s important.

  3. Kimberley Gray Says:

    Well my two years will be on September 13, 2012. I understand completely that feeling of memories slipping away, and sometimes I fight it, yearn to remember every little thing, but that brings the pain of loss so that’s not good either. My niece got married this last weekend and my daughter had to leave the celebration when they did the father/daughter dance and I went and joined her outside in the sun. We cried a bit, knowing that she will never have that moment, but then we picked ourselves back up and went inside. There are always those moments, those memories and I can’t escape them, and in some ways I don’t want to. My husband’s death was fast, unexpected (although he died of a heart attack at 60) he went to work that day a happy man, and I remember more about those last two days then the previous two years. I can’t seem to escape the memories of going to the hospital and seeing him there, one last time. One thing I did learn from the grief booklets they give you is there are no right or wrong ways to grieve and that everyone is different. Anyway, just wanted to stop in and say thanks for sharing.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      For a long time, all I could remember was the last time I saw him, as he lay dying, and the first time I saw him, when he was so young and radiant. The juxtaposition of those two images in my head about killed me.

      Thank you for telling me your story, Kimberly. It always helps to find out one is not alone, though I wish with all my heart that we never had to deal with such sorrow.

  4. Rita Kenyon Says:

    I have been reading some of your blogs but particularly the 2 years after one. For me it is 2 yrs and almost 2 months since I lost my husband of 52 years and I think I have been through every emotion possible but I find now I can only tell my virtual friends in a bereavement group about my feelings and now that has become in PM’s because I am considerate of the newly bereaved who have recently joined the group. I don’t feel healed the missing my husband hasn’t changed it is still raw. To the outside world I should be “over it” so I keep it mainly to myself. I try so hard to count my blessings, a wonderful loving family and plenty of offers to go out but I am still grieving and still want the safety of my home. Nothing is the same there is no absolute joy anymore, there is no-one here to make me laugh every day, no-one to share my inner most thoughts, nobody could ever imagine what this is like unless they have lived through it.I am not the same person that I was, but over the last two years much of my confidence has returned and I have made huge leaps forward in my new abilities to manage without him. I am grateful for your blogs and it is good to hear that others can still feel this pain after this length of time and I am not alone. You have a great way of expressing this grief process and I am sure that it is a help for many of us to know that we are normal and you have written down so clearly about our awful journey of grief. Thank you

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      In some ways it will never be over – you will probably always miss him, probably always feel a void in your life, will probably always experience grief upsurg
      es, though the longer he’s been gone, the more infrequent they will be. A renewed interest in life will happen, and you will find joy again, though maybe not for two more years. (Most people seem to find a renewal about four years in, or at least the beginning of one.) I am glad you are reading my grief blogs. It is important for you to know that you are not alone in your extended grief, but that in some ways it has been mapped out for you. (Not in all ways since grief is personal.) What you are experiencing, though still painful and upsetting, is normal. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for grieving still. You need it, and it will take you where you need to go. Wishing you peace.

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