“…bereavement is not the truncation of married love, but one of its regular phases– like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too. If it hurts (and it certainly will) we accept the pains as a necessary part of this phase…We were one flesh. Now that it has been cut in two, we don’t want to pretend that it is whole and complete. We will be still married, still in love. Therefore we shall still ache.” — C. S. Lewis
While the world remembers this day as the dark anniversary of permanent change, and as recent news has been rocked with other tragedies and natural disasters, I find myself still coping with deep sorrow in my private world. My inner landscape is oddly consonant with the outer world, which remains a distant reality in my heart compared to what I am living on a personal level, day to day.
The Labor Day weekend was part of an extended low period for me. Matt and I spent the holiday alone, and I felt that he and I are unwanted and forgotten. It took awhile for me to realize that it was the second anniversary of Daddy’s death, which was the beginning of many months filled with much devastating turmoil and grief. I’ve always heard that such anniversaries are felt on a subconscious level, even if one is unaware of it. I believe that now.
Of course, as an even more heartbreaking anniversary approaches, I am forced to accept that the healing I had hoped would be at least beginning by now has shown no permanent signs of taking root. There are all sorts of practical reasons for this, including the ongoing uncertainties of life for both Matt and me in the wake of unexpected consequences of Jeff’s death, most notably the impending loss of Matt’s disability services.
But the real reason I’m still hurting is that I’m still without Jeff after 38 years of being with him. Everything was easier to bear when he was with me; without him, every pain is sharper and slower to heal. In a strange way, accepting that the sorrow of his loss may well and truly never end has given me a bit of clarity that I hope will prove helpful as I try to piece together some sort of life for Matt and me.
My sister has been my saving grace. She and I have talked on the phone several times during this time of sad remembrance, and one night we just cried together as we talked about missing Mama and Daddy. Though she has never experienced losing a spouse (and I pray that she never does) she knows as much about Jeff and me, as a couple, as anyone else does; perhaps more, in some ways. I know that she understands the complex and overwhelming force of the waves of grief that keep hitting me again and again.
So how does one live this phase “well and faithfully?” Jeff himself talked with me in the months before Daddy’s death, trying to prepare me for the likelihood that I would lose the three most reliable people in my life within an unbearably short period of time. I knew he worried about me, yet I felt from him a confidence that I lacked. He realized full well how hard each of these three losses would hit me, but I know that he believed (despite his innate pessimism about most other things) that I would somehow survive it all. The memory of Jeff’s absolute confidence in me, which never wavered through the formidable challenges of all the years we were together, was one of his greatest gifts to me. It continues to give me motivation, if not always tangible strength, to keep going.
On my very worst days, which seem far more numerous than I ever expected, I remind myself that this is a regular phase of marriage, however irregular the complications that magnify my particular experience of it. I think, again and again, how fortunate I have been to have had two remarkable parents and one of the most singularly exceptional husbands I can imagine. That is quite a lot for one lifetime, and though I may not always feel it in my heart, I know in my soul that “God’s grace is sufficient for me.” Thanks for being with me in this strangely overabundant life.