I wake up. Ugh (insert eye rolling emoji). In the fractions of a second before I am fully awake, I believe that Paul is lying beside me. I can feel his weight, his warmth in the bed with me. I even think to myself that I should be quiet so as not to wake him. Then, I remember. I remember that Paul died, and the hurt is quick and fresh and infuriating. Every.damn.morning.

I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string, then I remember and have to lay the bow down.
  – C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis wrote those words after the death of his beloved wife. I mean, honestly, how long can this go on? It’s been almost a year, and I forget that he died. Really?! Someone in my grief group reminded me once that it took 30 years to weave our lives together. They pointed out that I need to adjust my expectations for how long it will take my brain to understand that we are not us anymore. Adjust. Who knew that could be such an ugly word. I don’t want to adjust.

So, this morning, February 12th, is particularly challenging. This is the day, a year ago, that was the beginning of the end. Three days from now, will be the day, a year ago, that we received the diagnosis. And 34 days from now, will be the day, a year ago, that Paul died.

There are other times during the day that I forget, too. During my break at work, it was my habit to call and chat with Paul for a few minutes. It was a ritual. It got me through the day. It gave me a sense of peace and calm in otherwise hectic days. That particular routine is one that my counselor and I anticipated being difficult. We worked together to create a new routine and what to do in the emotional aftermath of a day when I forgot and reached for my phone anyway. That new routine includes prayer, meditation, and breathing exercises. But the sleeping routine has been one that has been difficult to manage and/or work around. When Paul was at the hospital, I slept as I always did, on my side of the bed. When he died, I began sleeping on his side of the bed. There. I adjusted.

Sometimes I don’t even know why I am doing this, this as in writing this blog. Paul is not here anymore. How is that even possible?  I mean it’s completely confounding. I try desperately to wrap my head around that, and I can’t. It’s like trying to comprehend an extraordinarily large number or galactic distances. They won’t fit inside your brain without putting them in some sort of comparative perspective, but there is no comparative perspective for Paul not being here. How do you explain the unexplainable, relate the un-relatable? It’s impossible, incomprehensible, but I write anyway. Perhaps it’s a way to dispossess myself, to purge the emotions, or perhaps it’s a way to encapsulate the memories before they fade. I can feel them daily slipping away. Either way, I just know it’s something I have to do.

I had a panic attack this morning. Scratch that. I had two. They usually do happen in the morning. Shocking. I know. I get lost in my memories. It’s like being in a time machine. Trying to reconcile the past with the present and future in the same moment is too much for my psyche to handle, and I panic. In her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, author Joan Didion whose husband, author John Dunne, died suddenly after 42 years of marriage describes this getting lost in memories as a vortex. I’ll go along with that. But my vortex includes my dreams as well. I live in my dreams, literally. Nightly, I live out my comfortable everyday life with Paul. We talk about what’s for dinner, TV shows we like, what’s happening in the world. We hug and kiss and say I love you and hold hands. We ride in the car together. We laugh. My real life feels like trying to run through waist-deep water, through a swimming pool filled with emotion. It just takes SO MUCH ENERGY to do the simplest things.

I’ve had another flashback recently. In fact, I’ve had a lot of them. Most likely due to this anniversary of his illness and passing.

We waited in the room with him for a long time before a technician from the morgue came to get him. He was placed on a gurney with a very nice curtain draped over a rectangular frame above his body. My son and I followed closely behind the gurney as we made our way down the hallway toward the elevator. I watched until the elevator door closed, and he was gone.

And, so, dear ones, *sigh* the journey continues.


One of the many memories in “the vortex”.