Quiet house, Loud thoughts
I’m writing this in the middle of the night. The house is quiet, the dogs are quiet, my kids are quiet. My thoughts, though, are very loud.
I miss my husband always. It’s been 7 ¾ years since he was killed. That is not a short time in calendar terms. I don’t sit around all day and cry. I am not depressed. I function just fine… well, except for my legs and my right arm, but those fail to function because of multiple sclerosis, not because of grief, although the grief made the m.s. worse … but that’s not the point.
I function pretty well I think, all things considered. But around 2 or 3 a.m. some nights, the sadness is smothering. I miss him. His big smile that most people didn’t get to see because he hated that his teeth were crooked on top. His 5 o’clock shadow that always seemed to start early. His fondness for polo shirts and for button-down plaids. The worn, brown leather cowboy boots he wore now and then even though we live in a suburb on the East Coast.
I miss the endless lists Chris would make. How beautifully he played piano. The way he enjoyed a good plate of chicken parm. His romantic heart. His wicked side … and I do mean that in the very best way. What an excellent husband and wonderful father he was. I miss his intensity.
I miss our private jokes, and the way we could silently communicate with each other. I miss holding his hand and sharing his life. What a great guy he was.
And no matter how busy life is, sometimes in the middle of the night like this, a tidal wave of sadness crashes down on my head. I desperately wish he was still here. I wonder how different things would have been for all of us in our family if Chris had passed through the intersection where he was hit just 10 seconds earlier or later.
I would quite honestly give anything in the world to hold his hand, inhale the scent where my head would end up on his shoulder, and find his socks scrunched down in the bottom of the sheets. He was my greatest cheerleader and I was his. Always.
Of course, none of those things will ever happen again, so I have to shake the queasy, hollow feelings of grief off somehow every time they rise up and keep on surviving as best I can. And if you are dealing with the same kind of powerful sadness, you must do the same thing.
You can’t give up. You can’t let grief destroy you. You have to find a way to cope. Sometimes I get through the brutal times by reminding myself that Chris would want me to. Sometimes I focus on our children. Other times I focus on what I can do to help other people. Or on a good book. On music. Or on the view from my window. There is no single solution for any of us that will work every time.
Nobody warns you that even if you’re lucky enough to find great love, then you’re going to end up with great pain … or your partner will. It’s right in the marriage vows – “’till death do we part” or some variation on that. We say it but we don’t really understand it until it happens.
I tried to remind myself that I’m one of the lucky ones. Looking at the time on the computer – 3:42 a.m. – and blotting burning tears and breathing through that internal twisting feeling – I’m not doing a very good job reminding myself at this precise moment.
Not long after Chris was killed, the pastor of our parish gave me some excellent advice. You can’t always think about getting through one day at a time. Sometimes it will be an hour at a time. Sometimes you’ll have to just try to get through 5 minutes at a time. There’s no right or wrong way, and it won’t always be the same pattern.
If you need to get through whatever you’re getting through and it will help you pass some of those minutes by reaching out to another human being who understands, then I would be honored to be an extra support for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Direct message me on Instagram @frominhere. In a few weeks they expanded website will be launching and there will be chat boards to give you more ways to connect with other people.
I’ll keep making it through and I’m counting on you to do the same.