My world hangs in mid-air.
Things are scattered on the ceiling, on the floor. Nothing is where it used to be. I cannot find anything. Where is that thing that was once my life? Where did it go?
My old life and my new life melt together like chocolate in a bowl. They crash into one another and it makes no sense. Happy memories of a beautiful marriage smash my heart into bits. Stockings and presents on Christmas morning become ulcers and migraines and things I cannot let enter into my atmosphere. Everything I love is now pain. So much pain.
Why doesn’t anyone ever tell you how much this hurts? How much it continues to hurt? Why does the level of pain remain so high? Don’t you get rewarded for grieving properly and in a healthy way? Everyone keeps telling me I am “doing all the right things.” I never fight my emotions. I cry when I want to cry. I scream. I write. I live. I honor him. I don’t drink, and I don’t take drugs. There is nothing wrong with taking medication to get through this, nothing at all wrong with that. I know some people need that and it is helpful or necessary for them. It is just not for me. I would rather feel and live inside the Hell. I prefer that a sharp knife stab me than for a dull one to numb me. But how many times must I be stabbed over and over and over and over again? Ten thousand? Twenty? Four million?
18 months. Almost 18 months of this intensity. Waking up to the stabbing. Living in the muddy waters. Swimming in the endless sea. No end. No shore. Reading the book again and again. Flipping the page, but the words are the same. Every page has the same sentences, and they all make me hurt. Didn’t I already read this chapter? I know I did. Why are all the chapters repeating? Can I get a different book? Soon it will be 20 months. Then 2 years. Three. Five. Seven. Ten. Fourteen years. Twenty-one. Will the hurt be less then? Will it even matter?
I tried to run from the holidays. Pretended Christmas didn’t exist. No gifts, no decorations, didn’t go home to my family to do the wonderful things we all used to do together, with my husband. Cannot do it without my husband. But after hosting friends for brunch and then seeing Les Miserables at the movies and having a beautiful gourmet Christmas Eve dinner, I ended up at the same place I always do: Here. Aware.
Turns out it’s impossible to forget. Because when Christmas Eve came to an end, and I was lying in my bed alone, my heart was never more aware of what night it was. And when I woke up the next morning – still alone – the awareness got even stronger. More potent. The only thought on my mind: It is Christmas morning, and he is gone. He will always be gone.
I try to prepare for the grief. I stay clear of people and situations that I know will hurt like hell. But sometimes it doesn’t even matter. It hurts like hell anyway.
My past, present, and future collide. They stand together by force; like a bunch of acquaintances at an office party; awkwardly making conversation. It makes no sense. It is all scrambled in chaos. The things, the people, the life. All of it dancing with one another, stuffed inside of my heart.
I miss my future. The one that we dreamt of together. Moving out of our New Jersey apartment and finding a nice place for us and our kitties in New York. Me – finally succeeding in comedy, landing a TV role or sitcom or writing gig, and Don supporting me every step of the way, like always. Not struggling anymore. Maybe having a family of our own. Maybe adoption. Building a recording studio inside our home so Don could play his guitars as often and as loud as he wanted, and I could sing. Helping my parents out and spending more time with them and my brothers family, like we talked about. Growing old together and moving back to Florida one day, where he lived before I entered his soul and his life. Being old. Having our life, instead of just 5 years. Decades. What a beautiful word. Decades.
I miss my past. The one we had together. The early days of falling in love with each other, of feeling high as a kite during our engagement, like nothing could ever be bad. Like we could do anything forever, and we would always be that happy. Adopting kittens together and moving in together and buying furniture and exchanging deep and powerful marriage vows. Introducing him to my family and watching as they fell in love with him, just like I knew they would, just like I did. Dinners and vacations and anniversaries that didn’t have the word “death” before them. Living inside our ordinary, incredible, beautiful life. Feeling safe and secure and protected. Feeling loved and supported, knowing he had my back. Feeling ancious and excited about what was to come. Loving tomorrow.
I miss our present. I miss the now that we had as a couple. The tiny moments, the laughter, the silly songs, the thing that only he would understand and that I cannot explain in words to anyone else on the planet. Noises and sounds and secret phrases and patterns and codes. The language we spoke with each other. The language that now sits alone. Hangs in mid-air, nowhere for it to go. No longer anyone to share it with. The love. The secrets. That look I gave him. The nicknames and pet names we had for each other. Where does it go? Where does it all go now? What do I do with all these secrets and feelings and sighs and tiny, ginormous pieces that made up us?
Where does it go? It just hangs there. I cannot drop it. I will not forget. It sucks to hold on. There are so many pieces of that life that just hang there. Like rejects. Misfits. I want all of the pieces back again. I want them back. It was my life. It was ours. You can’t just yank someone’s life away and just leave them with nothing but hurt and pain and unfinished love. Give me back the pieces.
I wasn’t finished.
Kelley Lynn is an author, actor, comedian, TED talk speaker, and widow. She lives in Massachusetts, and is trying to change the world.