Last night, I didn’t sleep well. It had more to do with dozing off at 3:30 in the afternoon for a deep, one hour and a half hour nap after a day filled with packing, than anything else. I can cat nap, or a power nap, but if I long nap, forget about it. My night is shot. Last night, my night was shot. Still up at 1:00 in the morning, I tried a lof my tricks to fall asleep – deep breathing, relaxing my body, counting backward, etc. – but to no avail. My body was too rested I suppose from my long nap. I finally gave up and gave in to my thoughts of Peter.
I always think of Peter. He probably occupies once every other thought, or all my thoughts, depending on the moments. Yes, I’m still new in my widowhood. Yes, after 30 plus years together, it’s a no brainer I think of him all…the…time. Yes, in time, it will get better. Yes, it already has gotten better. Not the amount of time wrapped up in thoughts of Peter, rather in the actual thoughts of him.
The weeks after he died, my Peter-thoughts focused on the suddenness of his death. I had PTSD like flashes to the day, the hour, the moment before Peter was killed. I thought about the truck hitting him and how it all might have felt for him. I ruminated about the police officer at my door, the ride to the hospital with my son and my disbelief when the doctor gave me the “we did everything we could” speech. I could not shake seeing Peter lifeless, in the emergency room bed and the last moments my kids and I had with him…the moments of the four of us together for the last time ever.
From time to time, these thoughts still creep in with scissors and cut a little part of my heart out. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get over the shock of a sudden death. Maybe…in time. I think though, I will probably always carry it around, like an extra ten pounds, with discomfort and wishing it away.
As I spent weeks fighting with insurance, the pension board, the car titles, the utilities, the mortgage, and the credit card companies, and as I fought my way out of the ignorant fog of understanding finances and home maintenance, any thought of Peter angered me. How dare he leave me like this! I thought of every nasty fight we had, of every unkind word he said to me during these fights, and every bitter feeling I held for him. Despite missing him so much my soul ached, I also hated him.
I crossed over the fine late between love and hate and stayed on the hate side. Oh, I covered it well. At least I think I did. Although to those who knew me, really knew me, they saw it. I probably didn’t do as good as a job as I think hiding it between the lines of my post either. And, to be honest, and I’m always honest, I still put a toe on the hate side. I mean, in marriage, in a long-term partnership, none of us are always enamored by the other. That’s not real. As I still wear my wedding ring and I still feel married, it’s perhaps natural I still carry some of those same martial feelings…without the fights. Okay, maybe one-sided fights. Even in my anger, I grieved for him…oh, how I grieved.
Once the fighting stopped and things started to fall into place – decisions made, finances settled, budgets drawn up, and a whole lot of learning done – I settled into missing him. Deep grief of his absence took over me and standing up was difficult, moving almost impossible. I was lonely. I ached for him. I needed him. I wanted him. Peter and all his memories of holding me, tasting me, loving me, splashed up on me like tidal waves after tidal waves. The grief I thought I understood, changed course and drowned me in longing and despair. I missed him. I still ache for him. I still need him. I still want him. I still miss him. I will always miss him. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing. Yet, my longing for him hits me less than before and I sit with it less than before.
As I laid in bed yesterday, beaconing sleep too stubborn to come, I began to think about fun, silly, nonsensical Peter. I hadn’t thought about this side of him since he died. It was a side I think I saw the most, maybe the only one who saw it fully. Peter was a quiet man, a reserved man, a man of thought and brilliance. He was gentle with a kind smile that wrinkled his eyes. He spoke soft and with importance. That’s the Peter most of the world saw, that everyone loved. And last night, I thought of the other Peter, a small grin crossed my face. It was the kind of grin you hold when you are the only one to know a secret and that makes you feel special. I knew more fully and saw more often, the silly side of Peter than anyone. Anyone.
Silly Peter pulled me off the couch and twirled me for no reason. Silly Peter made a goofy face when I tried to explain something serious to him making me laugh. Silly Peter told Dad jokes and laughed at my absurd humor sometimes he only got. Silly Peter would bend down and sing into my face “a-boom-boom-boom” ala John Lee Hooker. Silly Peter would go behind me while I was walking up the stairs and poke at my waist knowing it would send me in fits of giggles. Silly Peter would do donuts in parking lots on winter days. And Silly Peter kissed me with a wet, exaggerated kiss on the mouth when I would walk by him making my belly fizz despite the messiness of it.
I laughed last night at Silly Peter. Laughed. It was the first time I could think of all our fun times together. Yeah, it hurt. It hurt like hell. There was also a comfort in the pain. There was also a feeling of I was the only one in the world who saw all the extreme sides of Peter and he chose me for his reveal. Through my laughter, there was this familiar feeling of specialness Peter gave me whenever we spent time as a couple. Once, part of that feeling was the security of knowing we would be together for a long time. Of course that went away for long was cut short. Yet what remains is the feeling of being loved. Through the anger, the sad times, the silliness, I was loved.
Grief has its stages and so does life, and so did my marriage. And I’m sure the anger, the longing, the happiness of thinking about Silly Peter, won’t go away any time soon, if ever. Grief has this wet-lather-rinse-repeat way of going through life. I won’t get away from it. I lost my most important someone…forever. And I will forever grieve him, in one form or another. I suppose all I could hope for is the shit-eating grin moments where I remember a Peter no one ever saw, and I saw this Peter because he chose me to show it to will happen more and more often. Eventually, I hope, to have contentment and peace from them. The way I did last night, as I finally drifted off to sleep.