Thursday, August 10, 2017


Sometimes I can’t tell whether a particular struggle is widow-related or just regular old life. Then I realize that my regular old life includes the element of widowhood, and I can’t separate that out. And my life is so First World that all my problems are a direct result of Jim’s death. Really, all of them.

Before saying more I must make clear that I’m not struggling. Not regularly. There are the terrible days and the bummer days, but I’m plodding along decently. I’ve just got potholes to navigate.

When you lose a loved one people give you whatever they can as comfort; usually it’s the thing they’ve found most helpful for themselves. For lots that’s religion. So these caring folk offer you Jesus. Though that’s not my thing, I’ve taken whatever people gave—graciously, except that one time when I lashed out—because I appreciate the gift of care. 

People like the idea of seeing their lost person in heaven or thinking that the loved one’s waiting with family. There could be something terribly wrong with me, but I really don’t think about that stuff. I guess my yoga garbage has gotten in deep enough where I take seriously the living-for-now B.S. I ignore Later, since Now is what I actually have to work with. Now isn’t theory or hopes. It’s concrete, and I deal better with concrete.

That said, I’m having a tough time finding a point. For all of this. Not, like, a life purpose or understanding of God’s Plan, but just a point. What’s the point of cultivating relationships? Of following through? Of making the bed? I do all those things without whining and usually without wondering, but there are times where I pause in curiosity over what I’m doing.

With Jim I decided that what I wanted the point to be was to be happy. Love him hard. Serve him. Let it make me happy. It was the only point I needed. But then he was gone and there wasn’t any point anymore. 

I’m kinda stuck. This isn’t like a divorce where you buck up and go back to being yourself but a better version of yourself because—screw you!—I got this! For me that situation was about picking up pieces, reassembling, and being even more awesome. I succeeded. I think I don’t have the same pieces anymore though, and I certainly don’t have clear assembly instructions, so with this disaster I sit with my pieces pretty confused. 

When I was working on the design for Jim’s headstone I put our births and death date on there. Our death date. Really just as a place-filler for spacing purposes I made his death date my own. The gal at the masonry place told me they’re superstitious so maybe take it off the design. I told her 8.30.16 is when my soul died, so for now it stays.

Honestly though something in me did die. I’ve had nearly a year to come to that conclusion. I’m back to pretty damn functional. I have gained relationships that are vital. From the outside I think I come off as pretty healthy. And I am. Except the part that’s dead. I’m not at all certain what part of me that is.

It might be zest, verve, umph. That seems to be what’s missing from Me. I feel more solemn. I feel less fun. Sometimes I even feel mean and it comes out as acerbic. There’s a necrotic something inside me, and I can’t cut it out, because I don’t know where or what it is. I only know it’s there.

This can’t make much sense to you, which is perfect, because it doesn’t make sense to me either. I know what depression feels like. This is different. I struggle to engage with people. I have a hard time caring. I think I’m more reserved. I don’t enjoy it.

So where I land is that the thing that died is Jim. He became part of me. He made me starkly happy such that it showed on my face. Being with him planted Jim-branded joy square in my soul, and without it I became listless and nonsensical.

This makes me feel like I'm cheating the new people in my life. You don't know who I was, so you don't know the best me. But with fracture nothing heals exactly the same. It could look the same, but the structural integrity is compromised. I do know I don’t get to get back to normal. I’m to redefine. Trouble is that that new normal person I’m putting together seems like a lame replacement for what I felt I was before.

Do I be okay with that crummy new self? Or do I locate some gusto that isn’t there and craft a being worth being? I have no idea. That’s the stuck part. But here’s where I’m smart: I know that being stuck is part of it. It’s part of loss. It’s part of healing. It’s where I’m at. I don’t have to enjoy it but I do have to slog through. So slog I shall.

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