Late Night Loneliness

I’ve hit a stage in my grief/life process that I truly do not know how to handle — my almost total aloneness. I have close friends, even one who introduces me to people as her adopted sister, but no one of my own, no one who connects me to life on a profound level. Most people seem to have someone to anchor them to life — a spouse or life companion, a son or daughter, a parent — but here I sit, alone with my tears — no one to smile at me, to touch me, to check up on me to make sure I’m okay. If I were to get sick or incapacitated, if there were some sort of emergency in the early morning hours, there’s no one I could call to come help.

chainThere are people in my life. Friends. A couple of siblings who contact me occasionally. And people all around the world care for me — in fact, I will soon be meeting some of those people — but they are either living with their “anchors” or are struggling with their own particular brand of aloneness.

How does one do this, this being so alone? I don’t know.

The funny thing is I never wanted to spend my life with anyone. I figured I’d always be alone, and I was comfortable with my aloneness and loneliness. Until one day I wasn’t. And there Jeff was. (I found out many years later that about that same time, Jeff was feeling lonely, wishing he had someone of his own, and suddenly there I was.)

Throughout all the years of grief, I told myself to just hang on, that eventually the pain would diminish, and I would be okay. Well, the pain did diminish, I’ve mostly gotten used to his being gone, and I am okay — no major traumas or exhausting dramas complicate my life. But oh, that late night loneliness is a killer.

I don’t even have a place — an apartment or home base of some kind — to anchor me. This is by choice because I know I would close in on myself if I were to settle into my aloneness. (People keep telling me that I wouldn’t, but the truth is, it’s happening now.) I’m sure this unsettledness is exacerbating my loneliness at the moment. Eventually, I hope to break out of this loneliness/aloneness and into a new world of experience (or do I mean a world of new experience?), but for now, all I can do is hold on and hope I don’t drift too far from any feeling of connectedness.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

I’m Declaring This Blog Reader Appreciation Day

As most of you know, this has been a hard couple of years for me. I watched my life mate (soul mate, business partner, best friend) die slowly of inoperable kidney cancer. I survived months of grueling grief. I left my home to take care of my 94-year-old father. I’ve struggled to keep from being swallowed up in the quicksand of emotion and trauma.

Through it all, you’ve been here for me. I want you to know how much every comment, every word of support, every story you shared has meant to me. Even those of you who have never left a comment (so I was never able to thank you personally) have helped me get through this terrible time because I knew you were there, suffering your own traumas. Your presence made me feel as if we were going through this journey together.

And perhaps we are going through this journey together. We are so often in competition with each other we forget that in some intangible way, we are connected one to the other. The internet, though it does sometimes keep us from connecting in the offline world, keeps us connected in a more ethereal way. The internet and computers are fueled by electrons, and so are we.  Somehow the two streams of electrons manage to collide. How else to explain the very real connections we have made though many miles — sometimes half a world — separate us?

So, thank you. Thank you for holding out a virtual hand and keeping me from sinking. Thank you for reading my blog, for caring, for connecting. Thank you for being part of my stream of electrons.

Learning How To Occupy Myself

One of the hardest things to accept after losing one’s life partner is that, no matter how unfair or unwelcome, life does go on. It’s been eighteen month since my life mate died, and here I still am. I always thought we’d go at the same time, that our connection was so great that the one who was left behind would be pulled into death along with the one who died. As romantic as that notion is, it didn’t happen (though the death rate for the remaining partner of a couple is exceptionally high, so I suppose, in some cases it does occur).

So much of these past months seem to have been wasted on grief, but now that I see light rising on the horizon, I realize these months were not a waste. In their own way, they were a celebration of life — both his and mine. I gave myself over to the experience, felt every nuance of his goneness, every tug of separation, every heartache and heartbreak. I gave myself over to tears, let them fall hotly and unchecked.

I felt, and in that feeling was life.

Ironically, another thing that is hard to accept after such a loss is the fact of your own mortality. When you accept that your partner is gone from this world forever, the realization that one day you will be also be dead hits you deep in your gut. I can feel the first (and second) twinges of age creeping up on me, but for now, I am still alive, still occupying this body/mind. It seems a waste of his life for me to waste what is left of mine, so I’ve been trying to occupy myself fully.

I dance in my room to celebrate this body, to feel movement and rhythm. I am writing nonsensical bits of prose — just random words, really — to celebrate this mind. I’m exercising so as to use my muscles, to celebrate that I have strength to lift more than a few pounds and to walk more than a couple of miles. I am celebrating the use of my hands, the way my feet connect to the ground, the pull of air into my lungs, the feel of the breeze on my face, the sights that pass in front of my eyes, the sounds of the city that assail my ears and the silence of the desert that brings respite. I am feeling the connectedness of things and people, both in the real world and the virtual world of the internet.

I am being, and being alive.

I am occupying myself.