I know it’s been awhile since I last wrote. Work has been extremely busy (this is where you would say, “SY, you’ve earned your paycheck!”) and I also went to Spain and back (for the most part, I was off the grid as well!! Shocker, right?! I’m trying to practice being more present and less attached to my phone. We shall see how long this last!) I actually survived the trip without any meltdown, and this was probably the first time I wasn’t a wreck on the plane coming back. I feel like I’m getting stronger and more confident in my widowhood skin. I’m not saying I don’t have my moments, because I still do, and this week was very trying to say the least. But, the moments aren’t as devastating and/or as paralyzing as they used to be. I just accept them as they come, and I try to be as patient and understanding as I can be with myself as I’m going through them.
As for the “breakthrough” I alluded to before leaving for Spain, well it finally occurred to me why I was feeling “stuck” and “imprisoned” when I was trying to rebuild and glue back the broken pieces of my life. I realized I was trying to rebuild a life that doesn’t exist anymore, but I didn’t know it. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle with a picture reference that’s only 80% accurate. You start the puzzle by referencing the picture at a high-level so you can sort similar pieces into different groups and work the puzzle in smaller sections until you can see how the different sections piece together. This helps with about 70-80% of the puzzle. Then the other 20-30% requires closer examination since the pieces are less discerning, so it’s really hard to know exactly where they go in the puzzle. So, the picture becomes even more important to locate where the pieces might potentially go in the puzzle. So, essentially, I’ve spent the last few months trying to figure out where the remaining jigsaw pieces go in the puzzle of my life and I’m constantly looking at the picture as a reference, but I still can’t figure out where they go, which has caused me to become very frustrated and feeling like I’ve been “stuck” or “imprisoned” when trying to rebuild my life. in this life I’m trying to rebuild since the remaining pieces don’t seem to fit anywhere in the puzzle. I feel like I’ve been the bird that keeps banging against the glass trying to fly out the closed window when the door next to the window is wide open.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been trying to rebuild my life with the mentality of being somebody’s “wife,” but I’m no longer somebody’s wife anymore, nor am I truly a single person either. I’m in a different category that I’ve never been in before and I can’t use either of my prior experiences as a reference to rebuild my life. I know I talk a lot about “tabula rosa” all the time, but that doesn't mean it all clicks in like it’s supposed to either, until it does. Sometimes, it’s hard to see something we’re not ready to see either, even if it’s staring right at us.
I guess I finally know what it really means when I say, “A part of me died with you.” When I saw your lifeless body laying on the hospital bed, all I wanted to do was hold your hand and lay right next to you. I didn’t want to leave you or even believe that this was really happening. (Sometimes, it’s still hard to even believe that it really happened and you aren’t here anymore...even a year later, there are days where this reality is very hard to fathom.) Now, I realize there was a piece of me that got on that hospital bed and laid right next to you and never left your side. She is the piece of me that is your wife. She never came home that day when I walked out of the hospital. She’s been laying next to you and never left your side since January 7th. I guess, even if I didn’t know it until recently, I’ve been mourning her death as well.
She died also, but I didn’t know it, and that’s why I’ve been struggling when I was trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. I was working off the premise that I was somebody’s wife whose husband was on a business trip. I was waking up everyday, continuing to live a life and maintain a routine that we had and shared as if you were temporarily absent, instead of being permanently absent; making me realize that in order to break free of the shackles holding me hostage, I need to make a complete mental shift in how I perceive myself. I don’t know what this new person will look like or how the remaining pieces of the jigsaw puzzles will fit into the grand scheme of things, but I guess that’s what I’m supposed to figure out on this journey, right?!
The last couple of weeks has been intense. I guess everything kind of culminated for me, and I feel like I’ve had another breakthrough!! (I know, I always think I have a breakthrough, and think my grief journey is coming to and end...but it never does and there’s always something that’s next that’s even harder to overcome!!) I think I was expecting your one year deathversary to be devastating (I mean the monthly ones usually hit like a ton of bricks, whether I realize it or not!), but it wasn’t as bad I would have thought. I guess the posts on Facebook helped me to start the work of processing and reflecting my pain, grief, thoughts, and learnings from the year that by the time the day arrived, I felt more alive and liberated than devastated. Giving people on Facebook a glimpse of our life and my grief journey allowed me to “turn towards my grief and face it,” while also “setting the record straight” and controlling the narrative I wanted people to know about where I am on my grief process so they wouldn’t make assumptions or judgements based on what they see on the outside only. As the posts progressed, I become more open and “vulnerable,” as my therapist would call it. The posts got more intimate and delved deeper into the struggles, challenges, and fears of widowhood, what I like to call #widowhoodstruggles. My therapist was so happy to hear about how “vulnerable” I was on Facebook. (Did you know, I could never say that work correctly growing up. I guess I feared it so much, I couldn’t even say it or maybe it’s because i’m a refugee and English is my second language - despite what you say about my refugee status!!) What happened on Facebook was what my therapist calls an “unraveling,” where I was peeling back my protective layer one piece at a time until all that was left was me - standing there, open and exposed for the world to see. It felt liberating because I was no longer afraid to “own my story” and say, “I’m a widow and it sucks. I’m not okay, but that’s okay too!” Ever since you died, all I wanted was for people to think that I was okay, and you don’t know how much I just want to be okay also. But now I know, “Okay” will always be relative for me.
We'll discuss my "breakthrough" later...there's a lot and will take some time but now I'm too tired!!
I love you so much. There's never a day that goes by that I don't want to just lay in your embrace and have you hold me forever. You always made me feel so loved, safe, and protected.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.