Standing Tearfully on the Cusp of . . .

My fourth book, Light Bringer, is going to be released later this month. I thought this would be an auspicious time, a time of endings and new beginnings. March is the two-year anniversary of my being published, it’s the anniversary of my birth, and it’s the first anniversary of my soul mate’s death. What I didn’t take into consideration is how emotional this month would be. I mean, I’ve had almost a year to get used to his death. I should be over it by now, right? Apparently not.

After his death, I told myself, “If you can just get through the first month, you’ll be fine.” I wasn’t. So then I told myself, “After the third month, you’ll be fine.” The months passed, and I still grieved, so I told myself, “After six months . . .” And, “after a year.” I’m nearing that first anniversary, but I don’t seem to be completely shedding my grief. Grief follows its own time. It will not, cannot be rushed. Even worse, I seem to be keyed into this same month last year — the final month of his life — and I feel as if I’m counting down to his death . . . again. The big difference is that last year I did not give in to emotion — at least not much and not until the end. His care was all that mattered. Well, I’m feeling now what I didn’t feel then. And just like last year, nothing I do can make him well.

This will be my first birthday without him, and oddly, it saddens me. We didn’t celebrate our birthdays. Sometimes we acknowledged them, sometimes we didn’t, but they were no big deal, just a change of numbers, so I’ve been wondering why this birthday troubles me, and tonight I figured it out. This is one of one of the big 0 birthdays, the one where you can no longer fool yourself into thinking you are still young (even the actuarial tables acknowledge this one as a major change). And here’s the kicker: my mate and I will not be growing old together. There will be no walking hand-in-hand in our twilight years, no reminiscing about our youth, no helping each other overcome the infirmities of age. “The end” has been written on our love story.

If that weren’t enough trauma for one month, Light Bringer is his memorial — his funeral service, obituary, epitaph — all rolled into one. Perhaps I shouldn’t imbue the book with such significance, but it is the culmination of two lifetimes of study — his and mine. It’s the last book he helped me edit, the last one I read to him from beginning to end. Once the book has been launched, it no longer belongs to us — to him and me. It belongs to anyone who reads it. And so one more piece of him will be gone from my life.

I’d hoped to be able to give the book a good send-off, but it’s hard to think of fun, innovative ways to promote when I’m constantly reminded that he won’t be here to help me celebrate. And it is something to celebrate. (Heck, I’m even going to celebrate my birthday!) So, here I am, at the beginning of this auspicious month, standing tearfully on the cusp of . . . what? I don’t know.

Is Twenty-Five Weeks a Long Time or a Little Time?

Is twenty-five weeks a long time or a little time? I haven’t a clue. All I know is that twenty-five weeks ago my life mate — my soul mate — died of inoperable kidney cancer, and I am still learning to deal with his absence. Sometimes it seems as if he’s been gone forever, and other times it feels as if he just left, as if I should be able to reach out, hold him in my arms, and keep him safe. Strange, that — I couldn’t stop his dying when he was living it. I certainly can’t stop it now that he is gone.

When I was a child, twenty-five weeks seemed a lifetime, especially if I was counting down to Christmas or summer vacation. When the weight of age began settling on my shoulders, twenty-five weeks went by in a flash. Or at least they used to. Now weeks stop and go, dam and flow, and I no longer have a concept of time, perhaps because the passing weeks are not relative to anything but his death and my loss.

Even the future seems long and short by turns. I think of growing old by myself, of learning to live with the limitations aging will bring, and ultimately of dying alone, and the coming years seem long. Yet those same years will still be full of life, maybe even happiness, which will make them feel short.

I do know that twenty-five weeks is a long time when it comes to feeling lost, alone, and confused by this major change — both his and mine. (I am very confused by his death. I worry about him still, feel sad for what he is missing, glad he is beyond pain.) At the same time, twenty-five weeks is way too short to even begin to process all that this experience means and will mean.

So, is twenty-five weeks a long time or a little time? I haven’t a clue.