So where do I start? Where do I begin to tell you how life these past eleven months without you have changed? There is the obvious of COVID19. Then of course there are protests and riots happenings and I miss you. I miss your calm during the chaos. I miss your logical during the nonsensical. I miss your ‘what are you going to do?’ reminders, or hearing you concentrate on what is right in front of us. I miss you holding me and distracting me and loving me. I miss you and all you gave to me. And I feel lonely and angry without you in my life.
I’ve made some decisions, and prepared some plans these past eleven months, yet with all that’s going on, my wheels are spinning in the murk of my life without you in it. There’s a frustration building in me from my inability to move in any direction, especially on. I am held back from events beyond my control and by the fears of what life is showing me. It’s hard to not be a part of the you and me anymore and move on just as a me. Yet I do. With effort, exhaustion, loneliness, knowing not everyone fully understands, I move. I survive. On good days, I live.
I have changed these past eleven months for the bad and for the different. I’m not sure what’s good yet. I don’t live in the spirit I used to. It seems every time I get my humor back, or my optimistism, or even my sarcasm, life slaps me back in the realities of the virus, and the unfair, some times brutal, treatment of African Americans and all both means. You know me. I feel it all, to my core, to the point where worry and saddness consumes me which is not a great way to live, especially without you.
I have so much more self-pity than I ever did before. Even a stubbed toe turns into ‘just another thing in my f-d up life’. I’m not proud that I think every negative thing, every turn of events small or large, remind me of your absence and facing everything alone. Yet it covers me like a dark fog without a lighthouse in sight. Sometimes, I will see the hawk I believe is you flying over me, and there is a calm…for a time.
My faith that used to sheath me at one time, was stripped away the afternoon you were killed. From the moment you died, I questioned God’s presence in all of this, even God’s existence. I tried to get it back, to cloak myself in the comfort of belief. And it seemed to work, until it didn’t. With the COVID19 and the brutal treatment of black people, the protests and riots, it started to tear again. People keep saying they are praying for me, praying for the COVID 19 victims, praying for peace and understanding, and yet, nothing changes. The COVID19 is still here and deaths are abundant. Violent uprising keep happening. In the words of Led Zeplin, “the song remains the same”. I don’t want this. I much prefer the restfulness garb of unshakable faith, only when everything in life has been shaken, I’m reminded, you’re not in it with me. I still am holding onto the threads of faith. I still say prayers for peace and I am hopeful the next thing won’t loosen my grip of what I grasp. Maybe this is the truest form, the best definition of faith – to question and loosen your hold yet still be reluctant to let it go completely. I suppose I will find out.
On the different, I do share my life with a dog now. We’ve settled into each other’s lives quite well. It’s not a dog you would chose, as so many people pointed out. He’s small and a semi-lap dog who is exhausted after a mile and half walk. I know you would prefer the bigger, hiking dogs. But it’s my life now, not ours. And Barkley – that’s his name – has given me a schedule, a reason and affection, tons of affection. He’s not you though. He’ll never be able to fill the void of you. He won’t take the loneliness of you away, nor the reminders of my own aloneness. He does give me more than what I had without him and I suppose, most times, that’s what I can ask for, be grateful for.
I am becoming more patient. I know. Me! I would say don’t drop dead from this confession, but that would be redundant. You are dead. Anyway, yes, I have shown more patience. You know me, I am patient with people, except those who don’t deserve my patience like racists and sexist and xenophobes. Oh, and maybe country music people. I mean, I still don’t get it. But most times, I have grown more patient. I look at your death and think, what the hell can top this? And in these past eleven months without you, life has bombarded me with so much shit and it all seems relative. I shouldn’t go to Chicago because of COVID19 and all the unrest. Not the worse thing because Peter died. I haven’t made a decision on my house yet. Whatever, Peter died. People disappointed me, well, okay I’ll cry and then think, the biggest disappointment was your death. You and your death are what I compare all my feelings to. Oh, I still get beyond anxious about our kids and their lives, and all that’s happening in a world that will never be the same, but the little things? I don’t sweat as much.
Today, on the eleven month marking of your death, I mourn you all over again. I mourn the feels, touches, smells, conversations, yin/yang, and decision-making of you. I mourn the you who could compartmentalize all the worries in the world, acknowledge their existence, volunteering to make it better than, and go out and garden your vegetable patch. I mourn your stabilization in my world, in the uncertainty of this world. I mourn the safety you gave me. I mourn the part of me who left when you died. I mourn the parenting you offered to our children. And I mourn us, the strong, solid couple we became as our years grew, as we grew.
And so Peter, on this eleven month of your death, I feel alone without you, unattended. I feel the spec of me has replaced the splash of us. The solitary life I lead is not one I ever wanted, ever prepared for and yet here it is. I do go on, sometimes in courage, sometimes in strength, sometimes in determination, but always knowing I am without you. I will forever be without you.
The tear in my heart has opened up a bit more today and I hate it. I hate it all. Because I miss you, Peter, with all of me as I walk alone on this Reluctant Journey, the one I’ve walked on these past eleven months without you.