Excuse me while I cope

Posted on July 10, 2011


Last week I went on my annual Girls Week trip. Of course it was VERY different this year. So many things were not the same. Of course there were some things that didn’t change–we still spent the day at the creek, I still got such a horrible sunburn my red is almost purple–despite using SPF50 sunscreen…we still went out for ATV rides…

But there were differences too:
My best friend drove and we took her Jeep. We didn’t have nearly the same structure we always enjoy…we were nearly hit in a head-on collision doing 70 MPH by and Elderly Lady going North in the Southbound lanes–she never flinched or even acknowledged she was in the wrong…

We didn’t take our annual 8 hour ATV trip…didn’t go hiking, shooting…fishing…There were so many differences this year. The major one being we went to help me process the fact that my husband is gone.

I had to block certain insensitive souls from my cell phone because those individuals decided to wait until I was over 300 miles from home to torment me once again with their lists of demands, insults, hurtful insinuations and threats. But I digress…

I still dreaded coming home, more so than usual. I woke every single morning crying–but fortunately I have finally stopped waking up by screaming…I still can’t sleep at night, my mind whirls and struggles to come to terms with what’s happened and the worry over what is still to come…

I’ve been trying to cope then this morning it belted me in the gut once again.

I’m 43 and I’m a widow.

I stood in front of the mirror this morning while getting ready for church and the words just popped into my head. Widow…43…doesn’t seem to fit, does it?

I don’t know why I’m sharing this with all of you…maybe it’s a coping mechanism? Maybe it’s a grab for attention? Maybe its a desire to let SOMEONE, ANYONE out there know HEY! You’re NOT alone!

Maybe I’m just trying to get a handle on what is..right? Or maybe I just like hearing my own voice….

Anyway. I have discovered that during the day I can almost forget that he died and left me. I almost forget the mess that still is ahead and I can feel normal. I watch a television program and laugh in the right places…I go to the store and shop for groceries…I go out to eat with friends and family…

Then, suddenly it will return–I’m not normal, not anymore. My life as I’ve always known it is over. It ended on June 22nd at 2:45 am.

When reality returns I am overcome with wave after wave of emotions. I’m angry he died and left me alone. I’m angry he left the problems. I’m hurt…I’m frightened…I’m sick…I feel guilty that for 5 minutes I allowed myself to forget my husband is gone…I can’t pick an emotion and hold fast to it. They tumble and whirl over each other in a chaotic, violent maelstrom and bury me beneath their weight.

I don’t know if that is normal–I’ve heard it is. I’ve heard all about the stages of grief and how they take time to get through them. I sometimes get so sick of hearing the words said because no one really knows how I feel, what to say, how to help. I know I’m not the only who ever lost a spouse–I’m not that vain or arrogant. I also am not the only one who was left at a youngish age. I’ve had other women who have lost husbands come and offer me their shoulder, try to offer words of comfort. They can understand to a point. But no one can be in anyone else’s shoes.

How I feel is not EXACTLY the same as a friend who lost her husband when she was in her 30s with 2 small children to raise. Another friend–a bridesmaid at my wedding recently lost her husband, they’re both in their 50’s and she doesn’t feel the same way. We share common pain, we can understand each other’s heartache, we do have common grounds in that aspect but my grief is MY GRIEF. My loss= MY LOSS. I shared my life for nearly 23 years with this man. We shared a few mutual interests, children, grandchildren, music…we also had hard times, hard feelings and stellar arguments. I loved him and I believe he loved me.

Someone recently asked me what they could do to help and I fell into my old pattern–sarcastic humor. I said “Well, you can either bring my husband back or find me a wealthy old codger looking for somewhere to donate his fortune with no expectations in return.”

Funny, I used to make people laugh with my sarcastic whit. Now they just aren’t sure what to say or how to act. Guess what? I’m not sure either!

Is it too soon to go through his closet and remove his clothes? Every time I open the door I see his things hanging there and I smell his cologne, hear his voice, almost see his face and it cuts me off at the knees that he is NEVER coming back to wear those things again. The shoes he used to leave in the middle of the floor still trip me in the middle of the night. Is it too soon to donate those suits, shirts, jeans and ties to the Goodwill? What if i give the wrong things away?

I don’t know what the future holds and that pisses me off. I’m NOT ready for this.

I can’t pick an emotion…I’ve said that already, haven’t I? Sorry. I seem to do a lot of apologizing lately. I apologized to family who dropped everything to be there while he was in the hospital, to friends who gave up time of their lives to help with the funeral arrangements, held my hand while I said my final goodbyes. Why was I sorry? Because I interfered with their lives. I took them from things they needed to be doing just so that I wouldn’t be alone.

So…why did I start this whole diatribe again? Realization that life as I’ve always known it is over. I’ll never again go to Arkansas and get text messages at 6 am asking me if I fed the cows yet.

I looked at a calendar marked “Russ Home” on this next weekend and think nope…never again. My husband is never coming home again. I’ll never get phone calls with random weather updates…or hear jibes about wondering what I wrecked/injured/damaged on this year’s excursion…I’ll never hear him say “I just called to say I nighty night, I love you.”

Maybe it’s to help myself, maybe it’s going to help someone else…or maybe it’s vanity–to hear myself speak…whatever it is I hope it helps someone know they’re not alone. I’m here with you, in that dark place where emotions whip like a tornado through the Oklahoma flat lands. Maybe together we can ride the storm of loss and come out where the sun shines and beautiful flowers bloom. For right now, I have yet to see the rainbow and this sure ain’t Oz …