It has been five months today. Five months since Peter left this world leaving mine broken and confused. Five months when I began to realize the strength in me and all that I can accomplish. Five months today Life and Death handed me challenges I never faced before and I stared all of it down. Five months I began to truly know the meaning of friendship and acquaintances. Five months ago began a change in my world, a world full of uncertainty, gratitude, instability, deep longing, despair, lessons, wishes for a past, and desperate mourning for once was. Five months earlier I started on a path of learning how to walk separate from Peter with this broken heart, one I am still stumbling, even falling on, yet one I keep moving on.
My daughter will be leaving me today to return to her own home, her own life, five hours away. I dread the good-bye. Good-byes have always been hard for me and with Peter gone out of our lives, I have no fallback, no chest to wrap my arms around and no words of ‘it’ll be alright to hear’. Since Peter died, my daughter has come and gone a few times. This time though we got through a very rough milestone, together, and we grew as a family unit. Nothing brings you closer than a common pain. I will see her again at Christmas. She’s actually coming in on Peter’s birthday, a few days before Christmas. It’ll be hard to wait that long. And it’ll be a hard visit with two agonizing milestones ahead of us. Maybe that’s why this goodbye will be so difficult. I know what lies ahead in her next visit.
I put up a village tree, a wooden tree to hold most of my Christmas houses. It’s one Peter built for me. It seems fitting on the fifth-month mark of his death, I sit this morning admiring its lit-up beauty. Last night, I felt his love, for the first time in a while. I looked at it and said, “God, he loved me”. His language was doing and boy, he has done good with this tree. It will forever be a reminder of what he did for me…FOR…ME. I’ve had reminders throughout these five months of Peter’s love, but this one is special. This time, I get to feel his love during the Holidays, one I am not excited about and wonder if I’ll ever be again.
The other day I wondered if Peter’s death was inevitable, could it somehow have been postponed to the beginning of January. Selfishly, I thought by the time Christmas rolled around, I might have been at a better place. And maybe we could feel some joy among the sadness, the joy Christmas brings. Silly thought, I suppose. Or more like one coming from a hurting place I never thought I would have in my life.
Oh, I knew eventually Peter would have died. We all die. Only I thought I would die before him. If not before him, then I held this romanticized notion we would die together, perhaps in a car crash. I never envisioned a life without him. I suppose it was too painful to even fathom. Yet here I am, in a place I never thought I would be, in my fifties, without the man who held my heart. Not this early. Not this way. Not when my kids were still in their twenties, my son barely in. We all still needed him. Our lives have not come close to being settled. And yet, five months ago, Death said “I don’t give a damn what you want” and took him.
I wonder often what I did to deserve this broken heart. I follow it up, not so quickly, with ‘nothing’. Still, I do agonize about it before I reach that conclusion and until the next time. I also constantly ask, why. Why me? Why, out of all the other women in their fifties, I had to be the one to live without my husband? Why do I feel so much pain while everyone else goes on with their lives? Why? Of course, I am luckier than the young mom of three, or the widow struggling financially. Of course, it’s cruel and selfish of me to compare or to even ask such questions. I know that. I also know Death took away my empathy five months ago and didn’t leave me with much else.
It’s five months today. I look back on these months and it seems like a lifetime ago and it was. My lifetime with him died and a new one is emerging. Only I don’t like it all the time, most of the time. Only, I would like my old one back thank you very much. Only, I don’t like the confusion of who and what I will become because at my age, I should be settled into a life already. Only, it’s unfair and painful and confusing to be out here in this world without him. Only, I loved him so much that I hurt, so much, even after five months.
It’s still early, people say. Five months is still in Grief’s infancy, they say. I’ll get there, learning to live with a broken heart, they say. Take it one day at a time, they say. I hear it all. I hear all of you. And I hear it from a place of grief, despair, and confusion. It’s hard to listen when pain thumps in my ears, drowning out everything like it has for me since Peter died….five months ago today.