Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Where’s that sixth stage of grieving, the one I’m in right now—Dead Inside & Productive. DIP. I’m in the dip.
I’m holding it together remarkably well. My mom tells me, “Sorry that you’re really good at this, but you’re really good at this.” Shit. Why? I want to be one of those people that can’t get out of bed and it’s okay because she just lost the best thing Planet Earth had to offer. The problem with that is that it’s not me.
I know who I am. I’ve always been proud of my strong sense of self. Jim loved that about me. I loved the same thing about him. I wasn’t just his wife; I was his match. I am capable, reasonably smart, determined, and episodically indefatigable. I was this person before Jim. Eventually, even after losing him, I’ll be back to being the person he loved, only sadder. At present I’m just resentfully able with a hole inside me that somehow has physical weight. How can empty be so heavy?
I find that I sigh a lot. Great sighs. Stops between big things like opening the estate bank account and small things like making toast. Where I am feels kind of like dread. Maybe dread for the future. My long, long future without him. It makes it hard to care about stuff. Like sunscreen—why put on sunscreen if maybe my leaving it off can give me cancer, and if I get cancer I might die sooner and then I’m spending less time living without him? I don’t know what I believe about what happens when we die, but I know for certain that this life is now without my person. So I’d prefer that it’s a lot shorter than is expected for a vegetarian, teetotaling, drug-free yoga teacher.
Lots of stuff that I might have enjoyed before seems worthless. Okay, so I take apart the guest bed and get rid of all the big pieces and get a new one and assemble it myself, who cares? I used to do things like that while Jim was at work and it delighted me that he would be impressed. Now who’s going to be proud of me and say “my wife’s a badass” when I’m a capable asset and not a burden? What's the point?
There’s good and bad to posting how I’m doing where everyone can read it. The good is that people know. The bad is that people know. It’s nice for me to be able to express stuff I’m feeling in pretty extensive detail without having to tell everyone individually how things are going. But people I see while out running errands as I pretend to live normally know that I chucked a remote across the room one night. (They don’t know though that a few days later I also chucked my phone and a metal stool. Aw eff, they do now.)
There’s also the fact that my feelings change so rapidly that whatever I posted a couple days ago could be worlds away from how I’m feeling now.
I’ll say this though, the writing and the posting helps. I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s some psychobabble to explain it all, but I don’t actually care about the why. I care how I feel, and if I feel solace of some sort by making the details of my inner workings available to anyone who can read, well okay then.
I think that act even further solidifies me as Jim’s complement, the throwing it all out there. When Jim’s ex-wife was having an affair he told anyone who would listen what was going on and that he was trying to save that marriage. He had no shame about being a cuckold; he needed help and keeping quiet and being secretive about what could potentially be embarrassing wasn’t going to help him and his kids. Should my children see a therapist? Where is the best divorce attorney? Is how I’m feeling normal? If you don’t toss out information you may not stumble onto the stuff that could end up most useful.
Unless we’re close, you and I, it’s my habit to be an intensely private person. Except in writing. When it’s just me and the computer screen nothing’s off limits. But when I’m posting my feelings real-time and seeing people who have read it all, it’s like we’ve had this long, really personal conversation and I wasn’t there when it happened. It’s equal parts awkward and easy.
As I go through all that needs to be done after your husband dies—will stuff, business stuff, figuring out how to hang a bike from the garage ceiling—I try to move quickly. Sometimes I feel like I’m running from what what I know and what that’s doing to me. If I move fast then the truth won’t catch up. But then I'm standing in the grocery store staring at rows of cans of chili, not sure how I got there because I don’t eat that stuff, and the weight of my new lonely and shattering reality returns.
He’s gone. Tomorrow marks four weeks since I’ve heard from my someone.