In spite of knowing that you have been away from me for three years, there are still times that I cannot process the reality that you are not coming back. Yesterday was one of those times. Most of the time my head knows it, but it has yet to get to my heart. I wonder if when your heart is broken that it gives you a defense against reality.
I have become aware that when I think about you, I am stuck in your last three months. My memories keep me frozen in your health struggles, your brave suffering, the 24/7 vigilance to keep them from hurting you, the heart wrenching decisions I was forced to make on your behalf and your final moments. Part of this, I am sure has to do with the fact that I always believed, until the moment you took your last breath, that you would beat this thing. It never was reality for me that you would die. But you did.
The grief that came about when you died was something that I never imagined a human being could physically endure. Maybe it is that grief that has pushed out the sweet and satisfying memories of 35 years with you. I wonder if there is a place in the process of grief where the sad memories of your last three months get pushed down into a sacred place in my heart to make way for the comforting and joyful remembrances of our amazing life together. Strangely, I want this to happen just as badly as I do not want it to happen. One of the many paradoxes I face without you.
Last night as I was going through things in the closet that I need to discard, I found my wedding dress. The dress I wore to marry you. Memories flooded back as I recalled how anxious we were to be married. Neither of us cared much about how the wedding would look. We just wanted to be married.
I did not want to do the whole white puffy dress tradition. I did that already and it did not work out so well. I found a pretty, soft apricot color dress with knife pleats, fitted waist. Simple. We chose identical wide gold wedding bands. Simple. We each engraved a message inside the bands for each other. Simple. Private. Intimate. You wore your beautiful charcoal gray mourning suit. My God, you were stunning!
The sweet contentment of that day enveloped me as I held my dress and, for a brief moment, put away the sadness of your absence. For just a heartbeat, we were together at the altar, holding hands surrounded by two families who loved us, our children who appreciated us and all of the hopes and dreams of our future as we united as a forever couple and our children as one family. As I folded my dress and put it away in a box for storage, I saw tears that I tried to hold back fall and land on my dress. I did not bother to wipe them up. It seemed an appropriate addition to the memory box which is filled with the joy of us and now a bit of the pain.
Maybe one day, on this horrible grief journey, I may get to the place where all of my memories are sweet and comforting celebrating the blessing we were fortunate enough to experience in our life as a married couple. There is no doubt in my mind that this is what you would create for me if you had a choice. You would be broken hearted that your absence has created this process of grief for me. I am grateful, however, that I did get that one fleeting moment of warm memories of you and us.
I miss you.