Eight Months

Eight Months

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while. Part of the reason is that while I can easily think of things to write about tinder or tiling, the arc of my personal grief is a lot more persnickety. If this post could have a thesis, it would be this:

I thought I would feel a lot less shitty by now.

Some days I really am fine. The day will come and go without any major drama. I’ll go to work and ride my horse, enjoy a glass of wine with a friend and it’s all fine. There is still laughter and joy in my life. There always will be.

Underneath the surface of it all though, I constantly feel some degree of empty. Tim is less and less present to me all the time now. When I feel him, it’s a rarity and something to remember so I can hold onto it. People talk about him less. Most of the time he’s there in the background, in a song that I hear or place I remember. He’s started to fade, and I hate that so much.

I can’t describe to you how much I hate that.

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My dreams are less frequent, but when they do happen they crash in waves. One night I will sleep and he’s so clearly here with me. The physical touch is so familiar that the line between dream and reality is blurred beyond recognition. The next I will encounter a shadow of his former self. A Tim that is not Tim. This person is still alive and hates me so deeply. “I moved to another planet to get away from you,” he will say.

I wake up, and think that he could be on another planet. If he was, he couldn’t be farther away from me than he is now.

Maybe it’s because I function quite normally on the outside or maybe it’s because many months have passed now, but the people around me sometimes seem to forget what I’m going through. A few weeks ago I had lunch with coworkers, and on the drive back one was talking about “Nurse Jackie” and how he might need to get some opiates so he could relax a little bit. While he blabbed on about different recreational pharmaceuticals, I gripped my hands on the steering wheel and told him “Don’t you fucking dare. I don’t want to talk about this.” Then he remembered.

Don’t think he’s heartless. Later, he came up to me and apologized. “You’re doing so well that I forget,” he said.

On paper I’m doing exceedingly well. I know this, but I still feel pretty shitty most of the time.

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Underneath my productivity and goals, there’s a layer of hopelessness. Though I still like to giggle about Tinder and joke with my friends as I listen to their tales of online dating, I’ve deleted the app (and all others) off my phone. Reasonable people kept asking me on reasonable dates, and the only thing I could think of was “How do I… not do that?” My extrovert side and curiosity wants to go out to meet people and explore, but another side of me knows the truth.

I’m not ready, and I may not be for a very, very long time.

What I am ready for is to stop feeling constantly shitty. Different levels of my self are healing, but my core still feels less. All I know to do is to keep pushing forward and keep looking for things that will make me happy. Horses make me happy, so Simon and I are off to a show this weekend. Right now there is so much comfort in knowing that hauling my creatures off for a weekend without any adult decisions to be made will make me smile. Even if it’s fleeting, some weeks all I can manage are the temporary joys.

Eventually they’ll get longer I suppose, and eventually this emptiness will go away. In the meantime I think about my feelings and I write a lot. Some of it’s junk and some of it’s okay. The important thing is that it’s down on the page, because I realized the other night the reason why I feel compelled to write this book.

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I write because I can capture him. There are so many little details that are already fading, and I can craft these in stories and struggle. When I write, I can share him with others. I can put him back in the room with me for a little while. Some days I desperately need that.

I write because if I can turn this situation into something, maybe it’s not all pointless. Maybe it’s not just that the people we love die, and then our lives are empty afterwards. There has to be another narrative.

While I wait to feel less shitty, I write and live and drive towards something unknown.

21 thoughts on “Eight Months

  1. I don’t know if this even belongs here, but I wanted to share it with you. During a particularly tough time while I was in photo school (shortly after the death of a close friend) I came across one of Nan Goldin’s books. I was really struggling emotionally at the time so I sought solace wherever I could (mostly in the museum’s photobook library). The preface to The Ballad of Sexual Dependency written by Goldin talks about the loss of her sister (suddenly and at at a very young age)…

    “When I was eighteen I started to photograph. I became social and started drinking and wanted to remember the details of what happened. For years, I thought I was obsessed with the record keeping of my day-to-day life. But recently, I realized my motivation has deeper roots: I don’t really remember my sister. In the process of leaving my family, in recreating myself, I lost the real memory of my sister. I remember my version of her, of the things she said, of the things she meant to me. But I don’t remember the tangible sense of who she was, her presence, what her eyes looked like, what her voice sounded like. I don’t ever want to be susceptible to anyone else’s version of my history. I don’t ever want to lose the real memory of anyone again”

    This quote hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s one of the main reasons I continued to pursue photography as a career and ultimately led to me getting involved in very serious documentary work. Your statement about writing reminded me a lot of this quote.

  2. There aren’t really words I could say that would mean enough. But we just have to walk our paths and can’t get too caught up on why. That’s easy for me to say because I’m not in your shoes, but it really is my mantra and has gotten me through some not so great times. I actually just wrote a post about it in relation to my writing. I hope you continue to uncover and pursue your joys. Sending positive thoughts for you to feel slightly less shitty.

  3. You know, your writing is so genuine that I love reading anything you write. I always feel like it’s a precious piece of yourself that you’ve graciously allowed others to experience.

  4. Your writing is simply great, keep it up. Know that I think about you and hope for your continued healing. My husband even asks how you are doing, everyone you know (and I think many people that you don’t) are rooting for you.

  5. I agree with Tracy. I love reading what you write, whether it’s about horses or your new home:) If it helps, do it! I think the old saying, “time heals all wounds” is just flat-out wrong. It takes more than time. It takes healing. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but when I’ve needed healing in the past, God is the only real source. So, I’m praying for you:)

  6. Tracy voiced my thoughts on your writing perfectly. Thank you. Like so many, I’ve lost someone very special to me. Even though it was many years ago, I still think of her multiple times a day and talk about her often. I still make some decisions based on what I know she would advise or hope for me. Long story short, she’s always going to be a huge part of who I am. I miss her every day and am annoyed by the fact that some memories are fading, but then the oddest thing will remind me of her. This morning I saw the first daffodils starting to bloom in my garden and immediately thought of her and the joy she would have found in that moment. I met a person the other day I just knew she would have laughed with. Those things are like little gifts 🙂 Here’s hoping the future brings you less pain and many happy memories of Tim.

  7. I have heard that when a relationship ends (by whatever means), it often takes up to half the time you were in the relationship to be ready to “move on.” I think you are doing everything right for you that you can. I love reading your writing, and it is a truly beautiful gift for those of us that follow. That you write so well in the midst of grief and pain is so overwhelming and inspiring. You’ll come out so strong on the other side, and thank you so much for sharing your journey.

  8. It is really tough when people start forgetting what you are going through. My husband’s family never met my sister, which makes it particularly difficult for her to be real to them. Her birthday was St. Patrick’s Day, so March brings constant reminders (she also passed away in March 12 years ago) and the first Marches without her were brutal especially as everyone else was decorating with shamrocks and planning the holiday meal (but not acknowledging what the day meant for me). I didn’t have it in me to explain.

    Eight months is a long time to be without someone you love, but a very short time on the grieving timeline. Be patient with yourself and know that you will not forget Tim’s essence.

  9. Hi Lauren, I started reading your post last summer (looking for a “Horse” blog) at just the time you lost Tim. I also lost someone suddenly (20 years ago) to drugs.
    He was the love of my life.
    I remember incredible numbness, guilt, anger, disbelief, and mostly profound sadness and hopelessness. I clung to every memory in order not lose what I had left of him … but eventually the sadness and some of the memories did fade and life went on.
    I am 55 years old now. I have remarried and had a child. A whole life without him. I still miss him, but it doesn’t hurt like it used to. Missing him is just a familiar part of my life now. Sometimes, out of the clear blue, I’ll remember something about him, something he said or did, and it is like this phenomenal gift. And I feel such a deep gratitude that even though I didn’t get to spend my life with him, the loss and pain were completely worth the seasons I did get to share with him. He has been gone 20 years, but some days he still puts a smile on my face when I suddenly remember some crazy thing that he did.

    I am so, so sorry for what you are going through. I just want to reassure you that some day the beauty of having known Tim will outweigh the grief of losing him. It will turn into something precious but bittersweet. You are never going to be the same. But you are going to be alright.

  10. You wrote:
    “I write because I can capture him. There are so many little details that are already fading, and I can craft these in stories and struggle. When I write, I can share him with others. I can put him back in the room with me for a little while. Some days I desperately need that.”

    Your grief is artfully expressed.
    I’ve been where you are, not exactly the same but pretty close, & I empathize.
    I understand what it feels like to want to hold on but to feel him fading @ the same time.
    I’ve felt the pain of others forgetting the one I loved because, to them, he is really gone & time has passed more quickly for them while a big part of me was still very stuck.
    One foot in front of the other.
    & do keep writing.

  11. “There has to be a better narrative.” There is so much in that perfectly expressed sentence, that my brain is going to have to let it marinate for a while. You’d think we (humanity) would have this whole grief thing figured out by now, but it remains unpredictable and both the same and different for everyone. Capturing the person you love in stories is a truly beautiful creation- I have learned that even memories can be stolen, but not if you put them in vaults of lovely sentences. I continue to look forward to reading the ones you share.

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