The popcorn sound of my iPhone’s text alert goes off, reminding me that I don’t even like popcorn.
“How are you?” the message reads.
“Medium bad,” I respond, resorting to the dark-humored joke my family and I share right now. It’s accurate, though. And it’s easier than trying to sum up, one itsy bitsy letter at a time on a miniscule keyboard, how my life has imploded and I will never be the same. It’s also shorter.
I guess that’s hard to absorb. Well, it’s a blog. I’m not trying to win a Pulitzer Prize here or anything. I’m just trying to get this written so I can fall asleep before the sun comes up.
Yesterday was a good day. Today is very different. That’s the way things roll right now. Every day when I wake up I don’t know how many waves of grief I’ll have to surf before I lose my balance and nearly drown. Maybe the waters will be calm. Maybe not. It’s just one day after another, knowing at any moment I could get knocked down again by a memory, a longing, or that now familiar ache in my gut that I have to try to breathe through until it passes.
I read another grief-stricken writer’s blog last night. She said one aspect of this pain is realizing that my loved one has moved on. That’s what it is—Rob moved on. He moved on without me. Without even asking me to come along. While mourning with the broken hearts around me, I'm forced to handle the unfamiliar details and grievous closures. And face the unknown future, without him. He just moved on. It confuses me, standing here, where I've been set aside. Stranded.
We had unfinished business. He died in the middle of our life and I didn’t get to hold him again, kiss his lips, tell him my saved-up news, share my fears with him, tell him I was sorry for the stresses that made me grumpy. He didn’t get to tell me those things either. Traumatic death leaves unfinished business behind in its wake that adds to the shock and grief.
That’s uncomfortable, too, isn’t it? Same here.
My constant companion now is the throbbing awareness that I’ll never see Rob in this life again or hear him talk to me in any way other than the handful of audio files I’ve managed to save. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of me. My happy husband. So delighted by his family. He so enjoyed living. He so put up with me. God, I miss him. I can’t possibly cry this grief away or sleep it off, ignore it or shut it down. Every day, every second that goes by, pushes me another mile away from the last time we lived a normal life together. It’s as though I’ve been set out to sea on an iceberg, floating farther and farther away from the mainland of life with him, never ever to return. This is cruel and unusual punishment for loving someone with my whole heart and soul.
I still have to do the ordinary things, no matter how I feel. Like shopping. But every venture into a grocery store is a risk. Every aisle holds memories of meals I’ll never make for him again. Foods he loved. The smell of his coffee in the morning while he enjoyed watching golf or football on tv. I’m baptizing the aisles inside every Basha’s in the East Valley with my tears.
This morning was hard. A lot of crying. A lot of missing Rob. A lot of scaring the birds in the garden with the sound of me blowing my nose. I went to McD and got breakfast, brought it home and watched a sitcom and got tired of tv. I went to the piano to try to play something. To express my emotions. Get ‘em out there and find a little relief. There was only a hymnal on the piano’s rack.
It’s hard to find a good angry song to play in a hymnal.
I flipped through to find something that might work anyway, landed on Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, and began to play. Angrily. Agitato forte, I believe it’s called, times ten. Pounding out an enraged version of the song felt good inside but hurt my hands as I thrashed the keys, slamming dischordant notes down like a two-year-old beating up the keyboard. Caught up in my heart’s furious expression, the sound that came from my baby grand was nothing like the writer intended. I completely destroyed the song which happily, sweetly admonished if I'd “turn my eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
What idiot wrote that? I wondered, knowing that Jesus wept and still weeps with us. Someone who never watched their beloved husband die, I was betting. I ended with a crushing smash on the keys and stood up. “And that’s how I feel about that,” I said calmly.
I think I might be a psychopath.
Since I forgot and left the front door open, I wondered what the neighbors thought as they listened in on my cacophony of grief. Maybe they decided it was some new kind of punky metallic pseudo-rock. “Far out,” the aging hippies down the street may have said. “Lord, have mercy,” I pictured the legalists whispering as they prayed for my piano to implode lest the devil get the glory. “She may need medication,” the worried gossip probably muttered as she bolted her door shut.
The truth is I took out some of my confusing, illogical anger on innocent ivories and made my fingers hurt.
We grieve alone. That’s the truth. People can sit with us, cry with us, hold us in their arms, but no one else can feel what I feel in this horrendous loss. No one else is me, no one else was Rob’s beloved, no one loved Rob the way I did as his wife and partner, no one else knows what this injury feels like to me. I have to grieve alone. You will have to grieve alone, too, when loss happens to you. There’s no way around grief. You can only go through it. As my son told me tonight, it’s so real and so raw that the only way through it is to honor that pain. And as horrible as this feels right now, this is the time to deal with it rather than stuffing it and having it come out later in some other way.
And now what I’m reading—which, by the way, is not encouraging—is that I will never get over it. I will never get over Rob’s death. I will never get over losing our life together. I will, instead, carve out a way to co-exist with the grief and loss and missing him, perhaps as an amputee learns how to function with one less arm, though I don’t know for sure. I’ve never been in that position. I’m just guessing the same way people try to imagine what they “can’t imagine” when it comes to what I’m going through right now.
So, yesterday’s blog had a happier ending. Today, the only thing I can say about the day is I survived. I walked through fire again.
Well, it was bound to happen. Every time you throw some dried corn in a pan of hot oil, the moisture inside gets agitated and blows the husk off. That distorts the uniformly shaped kernels into something resembling mutilated styrofoam, and the next thing you know it all gets drowned in butter and consumed absentmindedly during a horror flick.
Popped corn. That's what I feel like right now.
I’ve never liked popcorn.
The original photo seen above can be viewed by following the link below to the artist's page, Ann Larie Valentine. Popcorn! | Ann Larie Valentine | Flickr