Saturday will mark two years since my husband died. Two years since I went singing into our guest room, where he’d slept because he was sick and didn’t want to wake me or risk my health. He thought it was the flu, but in 37 years, he had never been sick for more than 24 hours, so after day two, I’d made an appointment for him to see his doctor, on what turned out to be the day he died.
I was laughing at us both, thinking we’d overslept, and saying “wake up, sleepyhead-somebody’s got to let the chickens out!
And I danced into the room singing “Wake Up Little Susie,” amazed that we’d both slept late, and expecting to see his grumpy, pre-caffeinated morning face, with that begrudging smile he’d first muster for my benefit, but which became real when I kissed him and made him laugh.
I won’t go into the horrid details of that discovery and morning- the shock that’s lasted nearly two years and the PTSD I still struggle with. What I do want to say is that although I can as yet see no future for myself, it has been my personal Beloved Community who have consistently done that for me. They have held me, and listened to me- crying, wailing, confused, furious, hopeless, “bereft, bothered, and bewildered.” They sat with me and helped sort through his things. They worked hard and helped me pack up thirty seven years of our lives together, even the things they knew were ridiculous and I’d dispose of later. They’ve walked me through basic things I could no longer figure out, and they’ve been always kind and given me the shoves I’ve needed at just the right times. They’ve kept me alive and held the space I might someday walk into, where Life resides and maybe flourishes.
Some wise person once said to me that when you can’t see your future or how you’ll make it, that’s when you’re creating something new, not just moving the pieces around.
I know that is true, but honestly? Right now I don’t care, I don’t wanna! And I know I’m sort of holding myself in an emotional hostage situation, but I want to just do enough to feel less pain. I kinda hate the thought of “life going on,” y’know?
I have a lovely next door neighbor, who’s happily married to his second wife. His first wife died, and he recently told me that she was diagnosed only a few months after they married: can you imagine?!?
Anyhow, he shared his story of grief and “nothingness” before he met his current, beautiful wife. And he also shared that every once in a while, something will trigger that sense of loss and pain, despite his happiness and general contentment.
I was both touched and relieved when he told me that. To know that it’s possible to regain joy and still grieve the beloved lost. That love grows around the grief.
My loved ones-kin and kith- are like the gold used in Kintsugi, helping me to find my scattered, broken pieces, and believing that I will again be a whole, yet different and beautiful self. In unexpected ways and levels, community is Life.