Writing had always been an outlet for me, a way to explore and make sense of my experiences and emotions. Yet, I did not keep a journal during my first year as a widow. For the only time in my life, I was so emotionally unbalanced, ( Yes, I did intentionally use the word “unbalanced”, because that is how I felt) that I was unable to write down my feelings; I was unable to write anything. The death of my husband was unlike any life tragedy or family death that I had ever experienced. It left me reeling – untethered, adrift, confused, and in a fog.
Although I kept no journal, the endless emails my sister and I exchanged during this time are assisting my memory of the events and emotions I experienced. And my own memory. The scars run so raw and so deep that I will never forget the wounds that made them.
And so the first day of my life without Sid in it begins. It has been 45 ½ years since he became part of my life on our first date in November of 1969. It is June, 2015. There are people in my house. Who is here? I tell myself that I’m okay because my sister, Arlene, flew in from Chicago, and my son, Joel, flew in from California. They are staying with me. They are watching over me. What are they saying? I don’t know. I’m tired. I need to lie down. Why am I so tired? I recall my Hospice counselor telling me that grief is exhausting; that it affects your whole being – mentally, physically, and emotionally; that I need to rest and sleep as much as my body wants. It is the body’s way of healing. Arlene keeps telling me to sleep, rest.
This is not real. Sid can’t be dead. He can’t be. That’s the only thought running through my head as I lie down and try to sleep. No. I can’t sleep. I have to write his eulogy. I’m good at that. I am the family eulogy writer. But it has to be just right for Sid. Special. It has to be as special as he was. It’s all I can do for him now. He deserves the best I can give him.
I get up. Joel and Arlene are talking. I am looking at them, but I don’t see. I listen to words, but I am not hearing them; words come out of my mouth, but I am not talking. Everything is foggy. I am in a fog. I cannot see through it; I cannot hear through it; I cannot be heard through it. I am walking around in circles. Why did I get up? Oh, the eulogy. I have to write the eulogy. I can’t do this. I can’t. A voice in my head says, “You’re a smart cookie. You can do this.” It is Sid’s voice, encouraging me, as he always did in life. He always called me a “smart cookie”. He thought I could do anything. How lucky I was to have someone in my life who loved me, encouraged me, stood by my side, defended me. With him guiding me, I always felt that I could accomplish anything.
I sat down at the computer, and I typed. I heard Arlene say to Joel, “I can hear those keys going a mile a minute. She’s on a roll. She’ll do it.” With the words I typed, came the tears. They washed away the fog and the words started to flow. They seemed to have a mind of their own. When I finished, and read what I had written, I realized that it was a testimonial to our love and the type of man capable of giving such love; a love so strong that it would survive death.
My task completed, I stood up and let the fog envelop me again. There is comfort in the fog. It cushions me from reality for awhile.
MESSAGE BOARD: Joan’s Widow’s Blog #2 The Fog