I am learning to live with the longing.
Hours after Tim died, I sat on my back porch with a friend and the two county appointed crisis counselors. My friend rubbed my back and sat there, silently present until she needed to answer a question or wrangle my cell phone away from me. The crisis counselor sat in the chair across from me, leaning forward on her elbows with her hands clasped. I remember her voice was patient, and her questions rhythmic rather than rehearsed. Behind a facade of kindness, her and her colleague had eyes that fixated on my actions to try and determine if I was a suicide risk.
Of course we all know now that I was not a suicide risk.
It was in this setting, fading sunlight and buzzing mosquito as the four of us sat on my back patio, that a moment of clarity came to me amidst my panicked grief – I will never be the same.
And I’m not the same writing this now, five months later. What I didn’t know in that moment though, was that this didn’t need to be a mournful revelation. I didn’t know that one day I might like the person this situation made me become.
I’ve never had an experience that rocked me down to my core like this has. It’s like I’ve taken the world in my hands, cracked it open and stared at the contents. Feeling what I’ve felt and knowing what I know now, I could never go back. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I am not afraid of it.
There are more good days than bad days now, and I act more selfishly than I did before. Pieces of the puzzle that was my husband still confront me. Whether it’s an old text message dug up, or a conversation with a mutual friend that reveals something new, I am less driven by madness and grief to solve everything.
Though I’m not as compelled to determine every lie and solve every mystery of the past year, don’t get me wrong… I still suffer from the madness that is grief. This has manifested itself in different ways – mainly obsessing over impossible situations. Partially because my brain wants to make sense of a senseless lost, and partially because I need a distraction from this grief. If I sat around and thought about nothing else except Tim dying and life without Tim, I’d need to be committed. It’s much more fun to ponder about unattainable people.
Eventually the roads of that mental folly reach a dead end, and I get back to myself again. At this point, I feel like I’ve thought out all the distractions there are to think and I’m left with only me. I’ve done a lot of healing, but now I feel mostly restless.
I still get surprised by my own sadness. Sometimes it’s watching True Blood, when Lafayette asks his deceased partner how he’s supposed to go on without him?
Just keep breathing is the response, and I burst into tears. On the days when you feel so empty and alone, it’s the only answer.
Or it’s a song that sneaks up on Pandora, with lyrics so perfect I feel like they were written for me. When that happens, I’ll wipe some tears away at my desk and take a deep breath before I go back to work. Compartmentalizing has become a skill, and it’s not something I ever did well before.
At four months, I closed hoping that I would learn to live with the longing. I’m getting there. I won’t say that every day is easier, because every day is unpredictable and wild. I feel like I’m setting out on a long tail journey, and loosening my grip on the broken pieces behind me.