I got through the eleventh anniversary of Jeff’s death without a major upsurge of grief, just a feeling of nostalgia and a bit of sadness. For a moment, before I retired for the night, I wanted to cry if for no other reason than a recognition that he is gone, but no tears came. I think I’m cried out, which in itself is ironic because for so many years, it felt as if the tears would never stop.
I once heard a saying that I didn’t understand until after Jeff died: Nothing changes and then everything changes. For years, nothing changed in our lives. It seemed as if we would always be like that — him struggling with dying, me struggling with living. Then he stopped breathing, and in that moment, everything changed.
Well, not everything. One thing has never changed. After all these years, he’s still the person I most want to talk to. We shared so much over the years, it is bewildering to me that we can’t sit down and get caught up. Or stand up and get caught up — looking back, it seems as if we were always standing when we talked. Who better to help me make sense of our lives both before and after his death? I do talk to him, or rather to his picture, though my comments are nothing more than asides, mentioning my day, maybe listing something for which I am grateful, or asking him how he’s doing. It’s hard to have a deep meaningful conversation when it is all one-sided.
I discovered a strange thing this morning. Although I have picked a tarot card to read the first thing every morning, I noticed a blank spot on my tarot journal where yesterday’s card was supposed to be. My morning routine is quite rigid. I do some stretching exercises, make the bed, fold three origami cranes, then shuffle whatever tarot deck I am using, and pick a card. Somehow, after I folded the cranes, I must have become distracted, and spaced out the whole tarot thing.
It’s nothing major, just a weird lapse, but it makes me wonder if subconsciously I blocked it out. After all, the tarot readings are a sort of memorial to my brother, and he loathed Jeff. Or maybe I simply didn’t want to know what the card would say. Either way, it’s unsettling to me — I don’t like forgetting to do things that I thought had become habit. Though, to tell the truth, this sort of forgetting does happen with me.
When I was in my late twenties, I ran a mile every day for years, and then days would go by, and suddenly I’d remember that I’d forgotten to run. One day I stopped running altogether. I simply forgot. It’s the same reason I am adamant about blogging every day — if I don’t blog every day, the days might pass without my ever writing a word. I have forgotten to blog a couple of days, but remembered sometime the late in the evening, so I was able to do my daily stint. Would it matter if I forgot? Probably not, but I do like the discipline of writing something every day, and if I let a day lapse, and then another and another, chances are I won’t be as willing to get back to blogging. (If I do forget to remember to blog one day, don’t worry. It has happened in the past, and will probably happen again, though I do try to remember not to forget.)
But that’s not important. What is important is that today starts my twelfth year of living without the person I thought I’d grow old with. Well, I am growing old; it’s just that I’m growing old alone. I’m mostly okay with that, at least, today I am. Tomorrow might be different.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator