Memories are a tricky thing. While they can be lovely whispers to keep someone precious close to your heart, they can also remind you of what you no longer have. Memories don’t fit into the “stages” of grief all nice and tidy. They are kept in their own separate box, tucked deep in the recesses of your mind. When the time is right (whenever that may be) they come forward and bring feelings of peace, love or joy. For widows, the right time may not be for a really long time. The pain associated, even with a happy memory, can be so extreme, so hard, that the only thing you can do is keep the memories at bay as best you can. The deeper the love, the more painful the memories (for a time).
Yet memories can surface, slowly, like a bubble rising up from the bottom of a glass of water. There are times you suddenly remember something that you didn’t even realize was an important moment–you knew it was at the time, but filed it away as just part of the amazing relationship you have; something to laugh about and let go. But once your love is lost, suddenly those details, those blurry moments of time, become the stuff of dreams. Dreams that you have to remind yourself were actually real. You had that kind of love, you had that kind of relationship, the kind of closeness and bond people dream about but most don’t get. As it surfaces, it feels distant and reserved. You try to push it away, but it rises and you can see clearly some of the details you long forgot. Then the hurt hurts all over again.
Over the past weekend, I had to do some yard work–tasks that Mike would normally be doing and had always done. But it’s just me now, so I had to figure it out. I called one of our friend’s, he came over and gladly showed me how to work the power washer. Once he left, I got down to business and tried to keep focused on the task at hand. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth I went with the pressure gun, powering away all the grime and mold on the driveway from the long winter. About half way through, one of those “bubbles” surfaced. The memory played over and over again, like a dominant chord. I had to catch my breath.
Every so often, while power washing the driveway, Mike would write a message for me (for the brief moments that you could see it through the grime until the whole driveway matched again). I heart my wife (heart was symbolized), M + S, I love my wife. He would call me outside and I would smile at his message–he’d kiss me, say, “I mean it,” I’d say, “I love you more than life” (it was something we often said to each other), then he’d get back to it. It was one of those details, something minor but was such a big part of our relationship. It was who we were. Now, here I was doing his task, staring at the driveway that, in that moment, I despised.
Those details, the every day little things we did 7 days a week 24 hours a day pile up. Tonight the sun was shining, so I tried to go for a walk, to process some of these details/memories, even though most stay far back in the recesses of my mind. As I looked around, walking the same steps we walked so many times together through “our neighborhood”, I saw all the things that trigger what’s so hard to think about–our love for each other, my heart and home. While it has been six months, it’s only been six months and it’s just hitting me–I lost everything. My world just came crashing down. I had it all, and now……
As this realization sank like a lead balloon, I shuffled my feet, trying to just keep walking. A small sound started to migrate closer, closer, closer, until I could hear that it was a song. As I passed by the house it was coming from I could make out just eight words “There’s only one way–one way to survive.” The music faded as I continued walking.
I tucked the memories back in, and pushed forward. That’s what this is right now. As a widow, all you can do is take each day slowly. Don’t rush your grief, don’t give it a timeline, don’t let others tell you how to grief, but push forward. Just ONE-DAY-AT-A-TIME, it’s the only way to survive. That’s all we can do.
Until next time, may Grace, Guidance, and Gratitude meet you along your path.
Episode 2 of The Game on Glio Podcast airs May 27th. Find it here or on Spotify, iTunes, iHeart, and Google Play.