I’ve been experiencing a slow regression into a territory that has been a familiar one – grief.
It has almost been a year and a half since my partner passed away and life has, indeed, moved on. The holidays are once again fast approaching and my walks with my dogs have been a gateway for a flood of memories. It’s nearly Halloween and Carol and I walked the same streets that I now walk with my dogs, alone. We would look at all of the houses that were wonderfully decorated and take note as to which house was going to give candy away or not. She would talk about decorating our own house and we would discuss who would stay and give out candy and who would walk with my nephew around the neighborhood. These memories don’t bring the big waves of grief that they once did but they stack up on me, like small wooden blocks, one by one, until one day it just feels so heavy and they crumble and I along with it. These memories are echoes and shadings of what was, what could have been, and what will no longer be.
I take these walks and see my partner in the smiles of the scarecrows and the cut out teeth of jack-o-lanterns. I hear her voice, excitement, and anticipation of wanting to participate in the joy of this holiday and the ones to come. Yet, I still can’t bear to decorate. One of her sisters recently requested I send back a couple of her Halloween decorations and some festive plates she gave to Carol for her birthday. That meant I had to go into my garage and riffle through our memories once again. I did it and I sent them. But, with each journey into the “holiday box” it also opens up the Pandora’s box of joy and pain that accompanies touching, looking, and holding these items from our not so distant past. I’m flooded with the happiness our life was filled with, the good times as well as the bad, and the horrors of what I experienced as I witnessed her alarmingly quick deterioration, and ultimate death, in the hospital. After speaking to some of my friends who have been through war, or had family members in the war, they are convinced that I have PTSD – I’m sure I do.
However, there is so much good happening in my life right now: Jobs working on television shows, new agents, and a welcomed respite from the flooding grief that only comes with the passage of time. I even was given a Resolution from the City of Los Angeles! I mean, my life is good and getting better every day! And, maybe, that is why, at the same time, I am starting to feel that slow creep of grief: the melancholy, the loneliness, and yes – the sadness, once again. I wish my partner, my friend, Carol, were here to share it with me, to experience it all with me, and were here to recount specific things that happened so we could experience it all over again. And, don’t take me wrong, I have wonderful friends and family to share these moments with but at the end of the day, I still go home, the home I shared with my partner, and it is empty. It’s like being the only one in the party hall, when the guests have all gone, the streamers are still lying on the floor, and the remnants of half eaten cake lie on the tables – I know fun was had but there remains a type of “emptiness” inside of me.
I know and have experienced an acceptance that I will not see her again in my lifetime. However, that same acceptance has given me an awareness to know that she is always here with me, surrounding me, protecting me, and still loving me. I experience her presence as a feeling of her standing behind me and watching. And, it brings me great comfort. But, I also know what is happening is that my own instincts are getting honed. I am starting to have a self-reliance and confidence in who I am and what I have become because of this experience. And, maybe, just maybe, I will be okay – it will all be okay.
However, in the “in-betweens” of moments, that quiet before the chirp of the birds in the morning, before I hear the tick of the distant clock, there lives that silence – when I think of her and she is missed…terribly. These are the moments when I feel the wound – that tangible piece of someone I shared my life with who was ripped away from me. And, it is in that moment that I close my eyes, take a deep breath, feel my feet beneath me, and thank God for the time I had with her. She was a glorious gift. And, like all gifts, they never leave or lose their symbolism if you keep remembering how special they are.
What I would give to talk to my friend once again – to hear her laugh, to see her smile, to get a hug, to hold her hand. It still hurts but I’m healing one day at a time.