Let's Make a Mosaic!!!
You don’t even know how many days where I feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel or I feel like I’ve scaled the highest mountain I can on this grief journey, but only to realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is actually illusive and further away than I thought and the peak of the highest mountain of grief is actually not the highest at all. In fact, I still have a very long way to go before I see the light at the end of the tunnel or reach the highest peak of grief.
Ever since you passed, I’m forced to constantly let go of all the things that are comfortable and familiar in my life. Even when I think there’s nothing left to give up or let go of, I’m being forced to constantly keep giving up more and more of myself and my life to the point where I don’t even know who’s staring back at me in the mirror and my life has become quite unfamiliar and “uncomfortable.” I’ve been reading David Kessler’s book on Finding Meaning, the Sixth Stage of Grief, and he discusses how acceptance, the fifth stage of grief, happens in stages and over time as well – that’s probably why it is said and believed that the 5 stages of grief aren’t linear and one can move back and forth between the stages many times. I think that because grief requires not only grieving the person that passed, but also many things in one’s life.
After I grieved your death and accepted that you were no longer coming back, it occurred to me that I was no longer a wife. So, I also had to grieve my identity as a wife. After I accepted that I was no longer a wife, I thought I was done grieving and I could finally pivot and focus on rolling up my sleeves and start the hard work of rebuilding and putting my life back together. Well, was I in for a surprise!! I read my last entry before I took the year and half hiatus and it was about wanting my life to begin. Now that I’m looking back at the last year and half, I don’t know what I was hoping for when I said I wanted my life to begin. Had it not started?! What was there to begin?! I guess if I had to guess, I would surmise that your death was a clear and definitive marking point that my life had stopped and I supposedly needed something to mark my beginning? Well, whatever marker or signal that I needed to feel like my life was to restart, it never came, and I never restarted or began my life again.
No matter how hard I tried to rebuild and put my life back together again, nothing ever felt right. If anything, it was quite frustrating and demoralizing most of the time. I’m a Type A problem solver, so there’s never been a situation where I can’t get “under control” or “handle.” I thought all I had to do was pick up the pieces and glue them back together; that even if there were cracks, it would still be okay and beautiful in its own way. Well, the cracks were actually gaping holes that never fully closed and it was always a hot mess. No matter how hard I tried to reposition and move the pieces around to see if they would fit back together again, they never did. It was a puzzle that was missing too many pieces so the image was obscured and ambiguous. Well, I’m sure you know – I don’t do well in obscure or ambiguous situations!! It makes me uneasy and uncomfortable. I tried to close my eyes and embrace the cracks, I mean the gaping holes, if I were to be exact, but of course, I grew very frustrated because it never ever felt right. I think I just wanted my life to go back to “normal,” but what was “normal?” That was the biggest problem – I didn’t know what “normal” meant for me anymore. I thought I just go back to living the old life I was living but without you – and hopefully without being in pain and constantly grieving. I know, I was so delusional, right?! 😂🤣
Over time, I grew more and more frustrated and angry that I wasn’t feeling “better.” Whatever “better” was supposed to be for a widow – I wanted to quickly and desperately attain it. So, when I wasn’t feeling “better” even though I was trying and working really hard to pick up the pieces and “rebuild” my life, I grew more and more frustrated. I felt stuck, trapped, imprisoned, and cornered. The frustration turned to anger. I was angry for not knowing how to help myself, for not knowing how to “fix” my situation, for not getting “better.” I was angry I was a widow. I was angry for being angry with myself. Anger turned to self-loathing and wallowing in self-pity. I hated my life. I hated how I didn’t know how to live without you. I hated you for leaving me. I hated feeling powerless and not in control of anything in my life – not even my emotions were controllable. I hated how I was always in a constant state of pain, agony, turmoil, and unrest. I hated everything about being a widow. The only thing I wanted to give up and let go of was being a widow – even that I couldn’t do for myself. Essentially, I was a hot, helpless, hopeless mess. So, maybe that’s why I insisted I wanted my life to begin again – I wanted to go back to the “Sun” before you died. I wanted to live the life we lived before you died. I wanted everything to go back to “normal” – to the way it was before you died. I wanted my old life back – but what I didn’t realize until now is that I can’t have it back – no matter how hard I will it or wish for it. I guess, without even realizing it, I had to also give up my old life with you and that is how I ended up in So Cal living with my parents.
Yes, the global pandemic was the reason that brought me back to So Cal and quarantining with my parents, but ultimately it was a blessing in disguise. After being in So Cal for a few months, it dawned on me that by selling our house (oh did I tell you?! I sold our house last summer – that’s another story in itself!!), moving to a rental in Point Richmond for a few more months, and then ultimately deciding to put all my stuff in storage and moving to So Cal with the fur babies in tow to wait out the quarantine with family was the most roundabout, indirect, and needlessly expensive way of letting go of our life?!
I thought the quarantine was just a “time out” for me to wait and kill time before the world “opens up” again, and I when the world "opened up" again, I could just go back to trying to “rebuild” and “restart” my life, but now I realized it was a blessing in disguise kind of break – a respite – that allowed me to really reflect, look within, and self-examine my life with a fine-tooth comb and decide whether picking up the pieces and “rebuilding” and “restarting” my life really made sense. Maybe instead of trying to embrace the cracks, what I should really be doing was take those broken pieces and build something completely different and new. Maybe I should create a mosaic with the broken pieces instead of trying to put the broken vase back together. I don’t know what the mosaic will look like or what it will be yet, but I’m not going to rush it. I’ll just let life run its course and go wherever it takes me because I truly believe that wherever I am is where I’m meant to be. I’ve decided to not will, control, manage, or fix my widowhood or grief – what I really should say is I will try not to!! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 I’ve also come to accept that grieving for a widow is never ending and relentless – it’s the price we pay for loving someone. Although I’ve stopped mourning your death, I will never stop grieving your death. Grief is a part of who I am now, and I need to learn to embrace it – whether I like it or not, it’s never leaving. It’s the unwanted guest that totally overstays its welcome. I’ve learned that I need to change my definitions for “better” and “normal.” Whatever my previous understanding was of “better” and “normal”, the meaning has changed for me and it will always be an ever evolving and work in progress definition.
Did I tell you, my new COVID obsession is K-Dramas?! In a couple of the K-Dramas, there were a few lines that really resonated with me (actually there’s a lot of things that really resonate with me in K-Dramas, but that’s another story in itself 😂🤣).
First, they used a quote from Albert Einstein that says, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle,” and the male lead says that each day he spent with the female lead was a miracle. That’s how I feel about our life as well. Each day with you was a miracle. If I was given the option of not experiencing the pain and grief I’m going through right now by never meeting you, I would always chose meeting you.
Second, one of the character says something along these loosely translated lines, “Although my life is always falling apart, I’ll keep living it brilliantly!” This line encapsulates my widowhood journey in a nutshell. Even though I’m a HOT mess and I always feel like I’m falling apart at the seam, I’ll just keep living as brilliantly as I can!!
Never-Ending and Relentless
There are times where I wished we had a formal “breakup.” I want to be mad at you. I want to yell, scream, and throw things at you. I want to “hate you!" I want something to make it easier for me to “get over you.”
Do you know how often I fantasize about this?! In my mind, I play and replay the image of us fighting, screaming, and throwing things at each other over and over again in an indefinite loop. I want to be able to say, “What an A**hole, I can’t believe I wasted 14+ years of my life with this guy!!” Wouldn’t it be so much easier to look forward and move onwards if this was really the case??? I just want some “closure,” some sort of ending that I can understand and accept that makes sense to me. No story can end without a conclusion or ending. Apparently, a sudden and unexplainable death isn’t a conclusion or ending I can accept or even begin to fathom as the ending to our story.
There’s a song that Lady Gaga sang from A Star is Born called “I’ll Never Love Again,” where she opens the song with the below lyrics:
Wish I could, I could've said goodbye
I would've said what I wanted to
Maybe even cried for you
If I knew it would be the last time
I would've broke my heart in two
Tryna save a part of you
When I heard this song for the first time, I started to cry uncontrollably. It was like the song was written just for me. If only I knew that day was our last time together, I would have told you so many things. I would have told you how much I love you. How I don’t want you to leave. How I can’t imagine a world or a life without you. How I can’t live without you. How your absence would be so big and deep, an emptiness so vast that I still haven’t found the bottom yet. I keep falling and falling further into the abyss, and there's no end or bottom to this darkness and pain.
There are days where I still wake up and I can’t believe this is my life. There are days where I wish I can hear your voice. I want to feel your touch. I want to see your face. You don’t know how much my heart aches when I think about us and about how we never got to say goodbye. How can this really be our ending?! How can we really end like this?! Then the pain and heartache turn into anger because I hate you for leaving me. I hate you for doing this to me. I hate that you left and I’m stuck to deal with the aftermath all by myself. I want to scream and yell at you. I want to call you names and throw things at you. I want to hate you. I want to have a breakup ending that I can understand. I want to have a “closure” that I can accept. I want to know that I can get through this. I want to know that I have the strength and courage to keep living and being open to everything that life has to offer me – even if it’s without you.
Is this too much to ask for?! Can we finally breakup, now?! I want to hate you so much!! I want to move on. I want this pain to end. I want you back. I want my old life back.
Now - can you see how this can turn into a never-ending cycle?! Welcome to widowhood! 😂🤣 Pain turns into anger. Anger turns into yearning. Yearning turns into pain. It's never-ending and relentless. I guess the goal is to try and break this cycle. I still haven't figured out how to do this yet. There are days where I want to give up and surrender. Then, there are days where I think I'm a badass and I've kicked grief in the ass and squished it like a fly. But most days, I'm just beat up, broken, bloody, and worn out inside the ring. The punches never seem to stop, and I try to punch back and defend myself, but mostly, it's all about self-preservation when you're in the ring with grief. I usually just have my gloves up around my face and try to protect myself the best I can and survive for as long as I can. Even when I think I know what going to happen next, grief throws multiple jabs from left-field to constantly remind me who's the boss in this ring, and it's definitely NOT ME!! I've even tried to step out of the ring and wave the white flag multiple times, but grief constantly pulls me back in and tells me there's no surrender or giving up in this battle. It's a full fledge war and I either have to win victoriously or get beaten to a pulp and die!
Grief is a formidable and relentless opponent. The battle continues to rage on, and I don't know how many rounds are left - or should I say, I don't know how many more rounds I can last, but as long as I'm still standing, I'll keep my gloves up around my face and try to throw as many punches as I can.
When you first passed, I only wished for rewind or fast forward. I wanted to go back in time to our old life or speed up and get to the end of grief. Now I realized, what I should have really wished for was a snowball where time is frozen and captures a single moment that I want to live in forever, us sitting in the Shay living room, cuddling, laughing, and watching TV together, since neither rewind nor fast forward is possible.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.