the friday personals: on becoming widowed.

lookout water towerI write a lot about grief.

And a lot of what I write is at a remove from the way grief was in the beginning. In some ways, writing from that distance is a dis-service to those who come into the world of grief after me. You know what I mean? That it sometimes  sounds as if grief is more intellectual than visceral. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Writing without the deeply personal is not the whole story of grief. To give the whole story, to give as many handholds as possible in the steep climb of grief, we need to hear personal stories. Each Friday on the blog, I post something from my own early grief.

What follows this week was written just over a month after I became widowed. It is still the most real, vivid description of what happened that day. Please note, the story here is graphic. If you’re feeling especially raw today, please tread carefully.

You were just right here, that day, that morning. So strong, and joyful and full of life. And then you disappeared.

It’s so sudden. I can’t take the shock. No preparation – other than knowing you. No preparation to have you bodily ripped out of my life, out of our life.

I have been prepared to let you go, to let you walk off into the woods, as you told me you would do, someday. I have been prepared to let go of your body, to let you be dust. But not NOW. I am not prepared NOW. I was prepared for much later in life. I was prepared for 102, though I would have let go at 100. This should be our time.

Your body is gone, and it’s freaking me out. Ridiculous.

You and I go out for breakfast, then head to the river. You show me whirlpools, and are so excited to be in the woods and the water at the same time. You set up our chairs. You play with the dog. Then, you tell me this is heaven for him, and you walk into the river.

You cough, you cough, I don’t help, and you drown. JUST LIKE THAT. JUST LIKE THAT. We are in the middle of life, and just like that, you drown. Over.

And the fireworks in my life blow up, everything up until that moment explodes.

The shock is intense. Seeing your perfectly strong body, knowing your skills and your strength, I cannot imagine you drowning; I can’t imagine you not being free, not coming out, not popping back up. I can’t wrap my mind or my heart around that piece. That suddenly, suddenly – suddenly, my love could be gone. The very long blink of an eye, because it wasn’t that fast. Or were those minutes? Like when we used to say that the night stretches out for those who need it? When you wake up in the middle of the night, and it just seems interminable, it’s because someone needed the extra time. Did time slow down like that?

I can’t handle you not here. You are gone, and you are not coming home, not in this body, not to my body.

You won’t be here to comfort me, as you do in the way I want to see it all play out:

I jumped in the water to save you, and you had just gone under to let the current take you to the shore. You popped back up in the trees, and called for a little help getting out. You were gasping, but held me back with one hand up to let me know you just needed a minute, and you would be okay. I called 911, just to be sure you were safe and had the oxygen you need.

And you would be hanging over at your waist, breathing hard. I would have to call boris to me, because he keeps dropping the ball at your feet. And then you sit down. And once you are safe, I start crying. You are a little freaked out, but you are breathing, you are calming yourself down. The dog lies down too. I pull it together, though, see, because you need me to be calm while you recover. It’s later, after the medics come and see that you are fine, and I am driving you home, that you put your hand on my knee and say “Sorry to scare you like that babe.” And I start crying so hard I have to pull over.

But you are with me, and you are crying too, because it was scary. But we are together. We go home and sit quiet. You tell me you need to go off for a meditation alone. And when you return, we go to bed, and hold each other, and make love, and we both cry again – to be alive, to be holding each other, knowing we had come so close, so close to this other life.

This one.

This one that I have now.




Hflame-heart-100ow about you? Have you written the story of that day? If you’d like to explore writing your grief, and your love, please do check out the writing your grief 30 day course. We’d love to have you join us.