It’s cold in the house. I can’t decide whether it’s winter moving into Holland or if it’s in its final throes. I like the days when the skies are clear and blue and where the sun comes out even if there is a chill in the air.
I don’t think I’ve ever listened to music so much as I have in the past few months. It’s as if my entire self is striving to compensate for an absence.
This morning, I’m listening to a group called Fun. They sing…it gets better. And I believe it does get better. At present, I am struggling to find the balance where I can be the Mom my kids need me to be and still carry on with the things that fuel me. Finding the headspace to write has been the most challenging of all. I’ve had my computer open to scrivener and the pages I worked on previous to the trauma of loss. Just a little bit more, I tell myself. Just a little bit more. My novel is almost done.
Let me gather up my brains…they’re scattered all over the place.
I fluctuate between now and then…and I grab onto the things that anchor me to now. Now and the future. Now and the future. Push onwards. Push.
I’m slow, but I’m gathering up the things that have fallen by the wayside. The thanks that haven’t been put into writing just yet because there are too many things demanding time and attention and it takes so much energy to focus on now and the future. I am still here. It’s morning. Waking up isn’t easy, but I am greeting the day.
In the moments after sudden loss, the world falls away. For a while, you live in a vacuum where nothing exists except sudden emptiness. There is no formula for dealing with that kind of loss. There are no answers to questions left hanging in midair. Resolutions made, half-spoken plans–things not quite wrapped up. You are left there–hanging in midair, seeking for a foothold, trying to find stable ground again.
For a while, writing becomes a struggle. The words are too heavy–or not enough–the suddenness of loss is too startling. One moment there, then gone. Just like that. Photographs cannot answer back and memory rubs across the surface of the mind like rough paper over an open wound.
There is nothing to say. There is a lot you still want to say. No more questions can be asked. There are still so many things you want to ask.
Life moves on relentlessly. Life is too short to dwell on loss. Rather remember the good. Rather remember to embrace life and live life because the end is never expected.
So let us live life, I said to my friend.
And I think…I have to be bolder. I want to be stronger. I want to cherish those who are dear to me and to let those I love know that I love them. Each and every day. Life is too short for fear, for pride, for hate, for regret.
Someday, I will stop being the widow. Someday, I will be completely myself again.
It’s been more than a month since my husband died. Already, I want an end to the tears and to the sadness and to the numbness that plagues my heart.
Yesterday, my eldest son and I went to pick out a gravestone for his father. It was a sunny day–almost as beautiful as the day when we buried him. We took the train to Rotterdam and from Rotterdam we took the metro to the shop where we could pick out a stone.
The same tension pervaded us as in the days when we knew his father would no longer return to us. You know the smile that you force past your lips, the effort it takes to not break into tears in a public space. You hold yourself together by strength of will and don’t know how you manage to get to where you’re going. How is it that the world is still turning? How is it that life still goes on as is? How is it possible that I still walk the earth?
We sat there listening to the woman tell us about the different kinds of gravestones and all I could feel was a pervading numbness.
We ended picking the simplest stone. Shiny black granite to be embossed with silver letters and the shadow of a flying seagull.
Flight comes with a cost.
I think of the future that has opened up in front of me. How I must learn to navigate life as a mother alone.
My mother’s heart, I said to a friend. Is inclined towards my children.
More than anything, I want my children to be happy. I want to see them grow strong and secure regardless of this sorrow that has come to us.
My sons tell me that they want me to be happy too.
But sometimes, it’s too hard to be happy. Any little thing is enough to bring me to the edge of tears. If I take a walk and someone speaks to me–all it takes is a little kindness and I break apart. There are no words for grief. There is only the hollow cry of mourning.
My eldest son and I had a talk this morning. It’s been a month since their father died–a month filled with turmoil and agony of losing someone you love so unexpectedly. There are not enough words to speak of it. That I was able to go through the motions of living–that I was able to go to eschacon–that I was able to still keep my children fed –these are things that happened, not because I was strong, but they happened inspite of my weakness. In all these things, I have been constantly upheld by the strength that was offered to me and I am thankful for that.
Looking back is like gazing at the remains of a storm. In a split second, our lives fell apart. Everything that was known and familiar changed.
I said to my sister, I got through the funeral and stayed strong because I had to. There was no one else who could do that for me. I got through and we brought my husband to his final rest in a fitting manner.
Afterwards, in the aftermath of the storm, I felt bereft. Adrift and lost. Filled with grief and agony and not knowing how to deal with the intensity of these emotions.
I fell apart, I said to my son.
But now, you’re being assembled again, my son quips.
It sounds funny, but it’s true. Looking at the chaos of us, I realized that I couldn’t allow it to go on like this for much longer. I couldn’t let my children fall into the abyss of despair.
Everything starts with structure. It costs effort. I reminded myself that I’m a big girl now. As tempting as it is to escape–to run away–to hide from the facts of life, I must face them.
We lost someone we loved and for a while, we lost ourselves.
Today, the ground under my feet feels more solid. My head is clearer. I know it won’t be easy. I know it will be a challenge. But I am here. We’ll be okay.