When I first moved to Iowa I worked with this woman who was about my own age. She was married to a man 15 years her senior (her first marriage, his second). Together they had two kids, 2 and 4. He had a 15 year old from his previous relationship. He died of a brain aneurysm a week after passing out at a football game. She was back at work after a few weeks and life went on. About 6 months pass and she gets engaged and married a few months after that. Almost a year to the day, she is pregnant. Her son was born two months before my Will died. She is still married. He brought 2 kids, she brought 2 and they have the one together. She is really, truely happy. She still talks about the husband she lost but her kids call her new husband “Dad”.
I swear it’s true. At the time, I was kind of like “Well, whatever makes you happy.” And now? I wonder how she did it.
It’s been almost 10 months. A year ago tonight, brain tumors were growing so fast that he had blinding headaches. He was getting ready to go in for his 4th round of chemo. He had all but quit eating. I was getting ready (the same week as chemo) to have my gallbladder out. So, maybe it’s me? Maybe it’s my personality? Maybe I’m dwelling too much on these little milestones and dates on the calendar that are forever etched into my memory. Maybe it’s not a good thing that I can blink and be right back there with him.
Maybe I should let go.
I can’t imagine what it took for her to date…to get married…to have another child. I can’t imagine myself saying yes to any of it. And yet, I can’t imagine myself wandering through this life alone. I can’t imagine that I was only allowed 6 years of companionship. I can’t imagine moving on even though that’s what happens every day.
Every day that I get up and take a shower, I move on. Every day that I visit friends and cook supper, I move on. Every birthday, anniversary, holiday and gathering is a step forward. Away.
I don’t want to stay in that dark place. The fear. The wondering. The denial that he was, in fact, dying right before my eyes. The intense want, no, need for things to get back to normal. The hope for a miracle. The helplessness. I don’t want a minute of that back. I don’t want to be there again. But every time that sleep doesn’t come quick enough, it doesn’t come at all because I’m there. I’m sleeping in the other bed, clutching my cell phone with my clothes on. The beeping and hushed voices never fully rouse me.
Less than 24 hours before he died, I was at home for a shower and a nap. My sister came to my bed. I wasn’t sleeping. All I could say was “I want someone to call and tell me that it’s all over. I don’t want to see anymore.” I wanted it to be over. I was the one that was tired from the fight.
I’m just hoping that, as the calendar days click along in the next few months, I can relive them this one last time. I hope I don’t carry the burden of days into the next year.
I keep meaning to call my friend, the one who started over. I know her circumstance was different. Her loss was swift but no less painful I’m sure. I keep meaning to call her and ask her how she did it. Ask her how she was able to let go. How she would allow her little girls to call someone else “Daddy”. How do you make any part of that feel right?