I’ve come a long way in the three years since I wrote the following journal entry. I still don’t understand the point of it all, but the questions don’t haunt me quite as much as they did during the first years after Jeff’s death. I’m learning to live without him, learning even to want to live without him. Sometimes I see his death as freeing us — me — from the horrors of his dying, and I don’t want to waste the sacrifice he made.
I no longer feel as if I am squandering time when I am doing trivial things because I have come to realize there are no trivialities. Everything we do is living, taking part in the great panoply of life. Whatever we do adds to the Eternal Everything.
I still yearn to talk to Jeff, of course. I miss talking to him, miss his insights, miss the conversation that began the day we met and continued for decades until he got too sick to hold up his end of the dialogue. I was truly blessed. He never misunderstood what I said. I could make a simple comment to him, and he understood it was a simple comment. He didn’t make a big issue out of it, just answered back appropriately. It seems now every remark I make to anyone becomes a major deal as I try to explain over and over again what I meant by the first remark. It’s exhausting.
I’m grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful for all the words we spoke to each other. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me or be tormented by unaswerable questions.
Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning
Day 359, Dear Jeff,
I never felt as if I were wasting time no matter what you and I did—even something trivial like playing a game or watching a movie — so why do I feel I’m wasting time if I do those things alone? Don’t I have just as much worth now that I’m alone as I did when I was with you?
When I was out walking in the desert yesterday, I talked to you. You didn’t answer, of course, or if you did, I didn’t hear. We talked about meaninglessness. If you still exist somewhere, if you still have being, if life doesn’t end with death, then life has an inherent meaning — whatever I do or think or feel, no matter how trivial, has meaning because it adds to the Eternal Everything. If death brings nothing but oblivion, then there is no intrinsic meaning to life. So a search for meaning is meaningless (except on a practical level. We all need to feel we are doing something meaningful so we can get through our days and even thrive). Life either has meaning or it doesn’t. Meaning isn’t something to find but to be. So, I’m going to search for meaninglessness, or at least accept it.
Such thoughts seem as meaningless and as trivial as the rest of life. They get me knowhere. (I’m leaving that error, because . . . wow! So perfect!)
I’ve been watching your Boston Legal tapes again. Nicely meaningless since they put me to sleep. But they make me feel connected to you because we watched them a year ago during your last days at home.
This first year of your being dead is coming to an end, and I still don’t know how to survive the pain of your being gone, but I am surviving. Not thriving, not yet, but I will. There’s still so much to work through — all those years of your being ill, our unhappiness, our shattered dreams. Despite all the bad, we did have a good life, a fulfilling one. We journeyed together as long as we could, now it’s up to me to continue our journey alone. Will it continue to be “our” journey or will it become mine alone? I know who I was when I was with you. Now I need to find out who I am without you. To find worth in being alone.
Adios, compadre. I love you.
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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.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.