Day 21: three weeks

It was difficult when I could no longer talk about things we did last week. As time continues to march on without my consent, soon I will be not being able to talk about things we did last month. Then it will creep into not being able to say last year. Time is an odd thing. On the one hand, I am desperate to be past the unbearable pain of my loss. On the other hand, I am terrified of forgetting his face, his voice, his touch, and his crazy quirks. The word I keep coming back to is so incredibly inadequate- unfair.

It’s funny, despite my minute to minute reality, I still feel like this is all about someone else. This isn’t my life and there is no way his life is over. I think of stupid things like he will never get to see some movie he was looking forward to or see the finale of a tv show we watched together. These things don’t matter, but my brain keeps getting stuck on them as though some small revelation will lead to the dam bursting and reality fully racing towards me intent on drowning me in despair.

My mind has been pretty unkind to me today. It keeps replaying his seizure over and over again. It won’t stop. It was suggested that because the scene won’t likely ever leave my mind, just see it, acknowledge it, and go to a happy scene. I knew just the one to pick.

I’d surprised him with a trip to Maui for his 30th birthday and splurged on a convertible. We drove through a road flanked by trees whose branches had grown together to create a tunnel. I looked over at him and he just looked so content and so at peace. I reached for his hand and we held hands briefly under the canopy of leaves. This moment is the one I would always pick when I was sad or stressed as my happy place where there was proof that sometimes the world is perfect. ¬†But today, I see that scene and he suddenly projectile vomits like he did during seizure so it brings no comfort. I think it may be possible that in addition to processing this horrible grief, I could end up with PTSD. Wouldn’t that be the cherry on this whole crap sundae?

Today, to put it mildly, sucks.

Day 20: celebrations and envy

Today is my parents’ 44th wedding anniversary. Considering how long marriages last these days coupled with their young ages at the time of only 18 and 19 years old, it is a testament to how strong their bond is. A marriage that has endured so many years deserves to be celebrated, especially since they still even have managed to keep not only loving each other, but also liking each other. With recent events, they had not bothered to make any plans to celebrate, which I let my father know was simply unacceptable. Being the parents they are, I got a call back letting me know they made dinner reservations, only for three instead of two and also letting me know they would be picking me up at my house.It was not what I planned, but it was made clear it wasn’t up to me so I guess I’m having steak for dinner.

As much as I am happy, proud, and want to celebrate, I am reminded this is an anniversary my husband and I will never celebrate. We made it to seven and would be at eight on October 15th. I felt so secure in our relationship I thought we would be together for decades. Instead, we got a total, including dating, of 10 years. It simply isn’t fair. I think events like this are helping to take away the shock, but considering what creeps in when the shock takes even a short holiday makes me hope shock and I remain friends for the long term.

I read an article today because that is what I do lately, crawl the internet in search of grief resources and those that have had a common experience. The article really spoke to what I have been feeling and is worth a read if you have experienced a sudden death because I almost felt I was behaving normally. See below:

Day 19: dreams and the nightmare of reality

I have been so frustrated that I haven’t even been able to dream of my husband. He isn’t here in reality so my mind should be able to conjure him up as I sleep or maybe, just maybe, have a real visit from him. I don’t pretend to know if such things are possible, but I want them to be.

Last night, the frustration ended and I finally had a dream. We were sitting across from each other at a white table.

“I just want to be able to hold your hand”. I said.

“Then why don’t you?” he replied. I reached out tentatively not thinking I’d be able to touch him but I did. It felt exactly like I remember his hand feeling. His skin was soft with a little bit of roughness. His grip was strong and I could even feel the hairs on his knuckles. Most of all, his hand was warm. I began to sob and tackled him to the ground and let him hold me, his fingers running through my hair. Everything felt so right like reality was the dream and this was real. This was now. This is what it should be. Then I woke up. I was cold.

I looked at my phone and found mother in law drama I didn’t need. Reality came crashing down into the nightmare I know it to be. I tell myself things will get better, but things just keep piling up on my shoulders. I have never needed my husband so much in my entire life as he would be the only one that could help me through such profound grief. Instead, not only do I grieve him, I also grieve his place in my life as my protector, my anchor, and my smile.

Day 18: Storms

Someone told me that when his sister died, colors stopped seeming as bright. Until I heard that, I didn’t realize he was right and that everything has looked off. I live in the desert and this time of year, everything is bright. But even the sky has slipped into a dreary gray. That one is not my imagination though, we’ve been getting storms.

I always loved storms… the wind and rain washing away all of the dust and grime. I love the smell of rain as it is such a rare treat. Whenever it would rain, I’d always force him to come outside onto the patio and watch the rain, even if it was blowing in onto us sideways due to the strong gusts of wind. He’d never last as long as I would and never loved them as much, but he would always humor me and attempt to enjoy it.

I know that it is monsoon season, but I like to think that maybe he is sending some of these awesome storms my way, even if it seems silly.

Day 17: the wall

The theme for the day is exhaustion. I don’t want to get dressed, move, or think. Check and check to the first two items. The final one is inescapable. I told myself until I make my less than triumphant return to work that I would write a post and then put the really ugly stuff in my journal once a day, every day. Today has been the toughest day so far to make it happen. So, maybe I will try again later but for now I’m returning to the fetal position.

Day 16: the W word

I really dislike the word widow, but I’m trying to embrace it because that is what I am now. When I used to think of a widow, it was obviously someone else; someone at the end of her life, someone whose husband had been killed in a war, in the line of duty as a first responder, or someone whose husband was terminally ill and she got the exquisite benefit of time to say goodbye.

When he had his seizure, I had no idea I needed to squeeze in my goodbye. As they wheeled him out of the living room, I should have grabbed his hand, told him how much I loved him, something to show him that he was my entire world. Instead I stood frozen, panicked, and unable to move. I let them take him away thinking I would see him soon at the hospital and sure, he may be there a while, but he was going to be fine and would just need to take whatever medicine or change his diet however he needed to change it. When I got to the hospital, him being gone was the furthest thing from my mind. In that split second, I became the W word.

They offered to let me see him. I couldn’t. I have mixed feelings on my choice. On the one hand, I gave up the chance to see him one last time. On the other hand, it wasn’t him anymore. Somehow my last memory being of him breathing, no matter how labored and shallow from his seizure is better than seeing him not breathing and still having tubes inside of him from their attempts to save him. I hope someday my brain lets me have the real last memory of him be when we said kissed goodnight and exchanged “I love yous”. Some day.

Today is going to be a widow-riffic day. I am heading out to get copies of the death certificate, going to the social security office, and starting to send out said copies of the certificate to where they need to go. It’s funny, when I hit 35 I was starting to come to terms with the fact that I am on my way to getting old. Now, I feel like a child that is much too young to deal with this.

Day 15: What today would have been

To most people on Earth, today is just another Sunday. For my husband, it was one of his favorite times of year. Today is the day he was supposed to head off to an annual work conference and would come back energized and ready to tackle his incredibly difficult job. He was scheduled to speak just as he had the past couple years. Instead, the program has a piece written about him and his commitment to his job as a memorial. It just isn’t fair.

He was committed to making the internet a safe place for children and heavily focused on preventing commercial child pornography. It should be of more solace to me that his work will continue, but in reality I just want him to come back. I think some day it will make me feel better, but today is not that day.

Day 14: Dealing

Earlier this week, I went and saw a counselor for the first time in my life. She had me recount in detail everything that happened two weeks ago. My mind had been doing a good job of folding up that awful memory and sticking it away in a drawer, like that bit of clutter that you don’t want to deal with so instead you just stick it out of sight so you can claim the cleaning is done. Pulling out the clutter was excruciating, but probably for the best. One thing she told me is that I cannot expect to grieve “by the book” with the five stages of grief because of the suddenness of his death. She said that in reality, my mind may not let me grasp what has happened for months. It’s weird, I obviously know what happened, I’ve been trying to take steps to take care of the mundane awfulness of life’s little details, I wrote and delivered a eulogy, I consented to donation, I’ve screamed, and I’ve cried but I can honestly say I have not fully wrapped my head around things. That scares me because things feel bad, really bad, but what will happen when I really “get it”? I don’t want to find out.

Last night was my first night alone since it happened. I felt like a spent several hours fighting off a panic attack but eventually I found sleep on the sofa and in the morning I woke back up and started all over again. I haven’t been able to sleep in our bed. It is just too much. I tried once but just started sweating and hyperventilating. I will try again at some point. I obviously can’t spend my whole life on the couch, but now is not the time to deal with it.

Day 13: Knots

I’ve been uneasy all day. Truthfully, I have been uneasy for 13 days but today it is concentrated. My head is full of memories of our last day exactly two weeks ago. I keep going over and over it in my head, looking for something I missed. I keep coming up empty. It is simultaneously a relief and infuriating. It is going to be 3-5 months before I get the results of the additional tests they performed. On the one hand, not finding anything meant maybe I didn’t miss something obvious. On the other hand, if my life is destroyed, there should be a reason… a medication mix up, and aneurysm, heart blockage, just something. Instead, it is pretty much “Sorry the love of your life is gone, we’ll look into it some more when we get around to it.” Infuriating.

My stomach is in knots. Everything is uncertainty. What happened to him? Why did this happen? What is going to happen to me? How am I possibly going to handle this? I wish I knew. Instead, the knot just grows. I feel sick.

Day 12: Sleep, cry, laugh, stare, repeat

July 25th was the last normal day of my life. We had the day off work and spent it getting to know the new puppy we got the day before. It was a good day. Shortly before midnight, everything changed to a horrible nightmare when he had a seizure. Shortly after midnight, it was over. Everything. Our future, our plans, our shared loved, his life. It is still so soon and so tough to even talk about. Most of the time it is too tough to even think about, so my mind hides that night away. My mind also is hiding away him, I wish it wouldn’t but it probably knows better than me.

I didn’t sleep for the first few days. My home, our private sanctuary from the outside world, became full of people. I never thought I’d want so many people around, but I did. I was grateful for the noise, the tears, the laughter, the hugs, the support, and the love. There was much to get done for the service and there was a whirlwind of people doing anything they could do to help. I really hate asking for help. I have always been the one that wants to help others so the role of being in need was unfamiliar and unwanted. Now that the service is over, things are quiet. People still check on me but not with the urgency. It’s fine.

I’ve settled into a temporary uneasy routine. I start my day taking care of the dogs, I then look at the long list of companies that I need to call and choose a couple. I traumatize some call center representatives as I let them know my husband is gone, and I, his 35 year old widow, need to take over the account. They always sound so happy or even bored until I say why I am calling. After that, I get tired and try to sleep more. Then something will make me laugh, and I cry because I’m laughing, then I get tired and stare, and go back to sleep. In between that, I try to make myself eat. It will probably be good for me to get back to work.

I decided to write this blog for a couple reasons. The first is that my husband used to always push me to write. I would always say I have nothing to write about. I actually signed up for this blog a couple years ago when I full intended to begin writing about destroying my writer’s block. It sat unused until now. The second reason is that I know that sadly this is not a unique situation to me. There are other women my age trying to find someone that knows what this horribleness¬† is like. I am going to make an effort to tell my story as it unfolds and maybe someone else will be able to take solace in the fact she is not alone.