I had a dream last night about Peter. I dreamed he was still alive. He ‘died’ for fifteen minutes, but then, miraculously, sprang back to life. I dreamed we went on with life, with me explaining to his family this was a miracle, and Peter, in his always unassuming way, scoffed at my suggestion by repeating ‘it’s happened before’. When I woke up, for a few beats, I thought I was in bed with Peter and his death was my nightmare. As light crept in to the room, I realized his death is still my nightmare, but one I’m living with, not one I can wake up from.
At least once a day, out of nowhere, there are moments of disbelief I am living a life without Peter. I hold onto those moments, sinking into a deep pool of this drowning thought, and trying to grasp all this means. Eventually, I let go because it never seems comprehensible enough for me to grasp. I go on my with my widowed life…until the moments come at me again.
These past six and half months, I am living a different life than I lived when Peter was alive. Besides the obvious of living with grief, sadness, longing and despair, my life has been evolving into something I know could never have been with Peter. This is not a judgement of better or worse, or any comparison, rather a statement of truth. My life is different and would not be this way had Peter lived. Besides the obvious had Peter lived, there is an evolution in me and my decisions because he died.
For instance, this blog would not have been created, and honestly, the emotions in this blog are the truest form of writing I’ve ever put down. This would have been a blog Peter would have never read and never wanted me to write. He accepted my open honest emotions, much like he accepted my brown eyes. The difference is he complimented me on my eyes, like a lot, yet had a hard time saying anything about my heart laying on my sleeve. Sometimes, it frustrated him. Perhaps this is the reason why my words have a certain freedom in this blog.
I would have never had my apartment, Discovery if Peter had lived. I had a pipe dream of living downtown for a long time. Peter knew of it. Hell, anyone who is close to me heard of this dream at one time or another. My mother, in her lucid moments, will tell me ‘you’ve always wanted to live downtown’. Before he died, I made a vision board with a downtown apartment on it. Sometimes, Peter fed into my dream. Deep down, I knew. Peter never wanted to live in the city, just like I never want to live in a small town, surrounded by cornfield. We respected each other’s roots, even were grateful for them, yet, like any marriage, we compromised to settle in a small town surrounded by larger suburbs. Now, Peter’s gone, so compromises are gone.
If Peter have lived, I may have not been writing as much. Perhaps writing has become my refuge, my escape from the nightmare I am living. Perhaps writing is my way of pretending the world I now live in doesn’t exist, if only for a time. And maybe, that’s why I do so much of it now, more than I think I ever had. I’m not writing with a purpose of publishing or recognition, rather with a purpose of following a passion, getting emotions down, and possibly avoidance. Whatever the reason, since Peter died, I feel as if I am becoming what I always wanted to be when I grew up – a writer – and I am growing.
There are so many other things I have done, decisions made, opportunities taken since Peter died. My entire living room at Discovery is in a style Peter would have never agreed on. And purchases I have made Peter would most likely have thought were frivolous or unnecessary. I am certain he would think some of the steps I’ve taken to heal were impatient and hurried. Peter probably would argue with me on how and what I spent money or time on. Yet, I am learning to turn down the volume of Peter’s voice in my ear. I do not do this out of disrespect of him, or to distance myself from the memory of him. I will always respect him and I could never forget any of our memories, of his memories. Rather I am learning to turn up the volume I have now playing in my life without him. And let me tell you, it’s scary as shit.
There is so much uncertainty I had to, still have to, face without him which cause so much pain and insecurity. Peter was the person, my person, who made choices and I agreed or disagreed. If I did decide on something, like having kids, Peter did all the logistics to make that happen. Now, I am left to both make the commitment and follow through while still developing that skill set, one I have always feared to learn. And, most strikingly agonizing since Peter’s death, is watching my children fly to their own parts of their path, and not having Peter to see the beauty, or touch my hand while they soar.
And God, do I miss Peter. I miss him every day. I miss him for my own selfish reasons and I miss him for who he was as a person. Every day I do take time to sit with the unbelievable reality his is gone and I am here. When I dream of him, I wish it to be real, until I know it’s not, until the light of day reminds of the truth. It’s then when I began my day different from when he was alive. It’s when I start to live my life separate from an us life.
This life I was given so suddenly six and half months ago is painful, and scary ,and lonely, and unfair and unbelievable. Yet, it’s the one I have now. And when I look at all what I have done, how I have lived differently, without him, knowing they are not things he would chosen nor I would have if he lived, I think, “well, now, let’s go”. And I continue on, in pain, in fear, in reality and in, well, a new type of freedom, a new me I haven’t fully gotten to know yet.
So, as I look out the windows onto the balcony at Discovery before I got to sleep at night, I am struck by the different twists and turns my life has taken since Peter died, the ones I am navigating alone. And I think, maybe now, with my life my own, I have permission to feel the pride that leaks in when I see how far I’ve come. Maybe, just maybe, I can allow that tiny bit of excitement to grow inside of me of what is yet to come, all while holding him in my dreams.