Grief is not a gentle slope. It does not start at the top (or the bottom) and gradually diminish. It comes in peaks and valleys. And sometimes it comes when one least expects it. I was okay for a couple of days, successfully bypassing the minefields of memory — I’ve learned what of our things bring me comfort and what brings me pain — but then yesterday the grief spiked, and it’s as it was in the beginning.
It was such a silly thing that set off this new spate of grief. I washed our comforters, and as I was folding them and putting them in the zipper bags they came in, I thought how nice and fresh they will be when my lifemate and I get back together. Then it struck me — again — that he is gone. We’re not taking separate vacations, nor I am waiting for him to come home from the hospital, but apparently, somewhere in the back of my mind, that is what I believe.
One of my blog readers recommended Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, which was written the year after Joan’s husband died. My blog reader hoped the book would bring me the comfort that it brought her. And it did bring me the comfort of knowing that this illogical thinking, this magical thinking, is part of the grief process. Although Joan had no trouble getting rid of her husband’s clothes, she could not get rid of his shoes, because he might need them. Although I got rid of my mate’s car (I donated it to hospice, thinking that since I took him there, that is where his car should go) I could not get rid of his extra set of keys because he might need them. I got rid of brand new television but could not get rid of a pencil stub because the stub seemed so much like him — he used up everything, wasted nothing. I could not get rid of his eyeglasses, because how will he see without them?
I am not a bubbly, rose-colored glasses sort of person, but I always managed to find an “at least” in every situation, an “upside.” Until now. This is one time when there is no at least. (Yes, I know at least he is no longer suffering, but he shouldn’t have had to suffer in the first place.) There is no upside. I know I will eventually find my way to a new life, perhaps even happiness, but it does not change the fact that he is dead.
Every day I feel his absence. Every day, in some way, I try to rework the events of the past few months so that he really will return to me. But that is not going to happen in this lifetime. And so I trudge the hills of grief, and treasure the moments of comfort I find.