Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Etc…
This is where I am at.
Tomorrow will be the eighteen month mark of the day that RJ suffered his stroke and brain aneurism. Wednesday is his eighteen month “angelversary” (a word that is used to describe the anniversary of the day he passed away)
18 months. It feels like another lifetime ago, although the ache in my heart reminds me that it hasn’t been so long.
So much has changed in the past year and a half. I have experienced an incredible amount of heartache, dated, moved, and remarried. I really am very happy with where life has taken me and my children since that fateful day.
Life has gotten easier for the most part. My new husband has been such a blessing, I am certain that he was meant for our family. He has saved me in so many ways.
I have surrounded myself with only a few RJ’s old keepsakes, pictures, and articles of clothing. I have tried desperately to minimize the amount of negative triggers in my environment, and to only allow happy memories.
It helps. But I feel so much guilt for it at at the same time.
How could I ever be OK with being OK?
Yesterday, I cleaned out my filing cabinet so that we could prepare my portion of our yearly taxes. As I came across things like death certificates, medical bills, and student loan paperwork, it was as though I had taken back to October of 2015. And somehow, it almost hurt more than before, because, in an effort to help myself move forward, I have been avoiding it all. Remembering those early days really brings up a lot of unresolved pain and a feeling of desperation and anxiety.
But I know how to do grief.
Grief is like an old familiar friend now. As much as it hurts me, it feels familiar and right. I don’t feel guilty when I am mourning and missing him.
What doesn’t feel right is living without him. Being happy and being ok. It feels like I am leaving him behind.
He feels farther away.
I would rather hurt than slowly forget. But I don’t know how to bring him back, to feel closer to him, without feeling the excruciating darkness that accompany the memories of him leaving us.
So I feel overwhelming grief.
I allow myself to hurt, to cry, and to feel the pain. I feel it until I can’t take it anymore, and I fear that I will become stuck in that dark place. Usually it lasts for a few days.
Then I take a breath and focus on all of the reasons I gave to be happy. For weeks, I find and soak up every moment of lightness and joy. I think of him daily, that will never change, but I push out the bad and only allow the good. It is exhausting and takes a lot of effort to be happy sometimes. But I do it until I physically and emotionally can’t anymore.
And then I don’t feel anything at all.
I feel numb.
I see now that this is my body and mind’s way of protecting me. There is no telling how long I will stay in this state, as it always depends on how soon I am confronted with a trigger. I push through, do everyday life, but struggle to feel anything. I try to prolong this phase sometimes, because I know that deep down, the pain is waiting.
I know that eventually it will find me. It always does. All it takes is a song, a dream, or cleaning out my filing cabinet to push me off into that all consuming place of pain. And then it hurts so much.
But I also feel better because that means I haven’t forgotten him.
My heart hasn’t gotten used to being away from his.
And that makes me feel such a deep sense of relief. Because it makes him feel closer to me again.
I miss him.