I’m torn. My heart bifurcated between the terrible tragedy of loss and the possibility of the life that lies ahead. I’ve written of this conundrum before and like many themes in grief it seems to be different motions of the same dance; two steps ahead and one step backwards.
I’m so changed from who I was before Wesley died that who I am now is so permanently tied to that loss and sadness. I cannot separate the two from each other and perhaps that is what grief is as a long-term experience; the sadness that has seeped into the marrow of my bone leaves my heart less broken but a heart that has healed with scars–tight and prominent around it. As fingers of memory stroke my heart the scars are rough and raised and tender to the touch. Even as it heals through time and distance from the date burned in my memory of March 30, 2013, the skin is changed and the wounds visibly invisible. I’m reminded of a Mumford and Sons song that says, “Because death is just so full and man so small; Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.” I’m scared of both. I’m scared of the loss I have known and keep my fear at times contained behind the mask of determination and hope. I’m scared of the life to come because it is uncertain. My mind goes to the “What if?” and descends into the rabbit hole to find the solitude I seek. Solitude is comfortable and safe and the warm warren at the bottom of the rabbit hole is harmless; I can live cocooned in my sorrow and come out for work and required social occasions but can live behind the closed door in a widow’s colony of my own creation.
But what is gained in this emotional exile amongst the world? I am granted in some ways the societal permission to hide away, to live with a hermit’s heart, and completely seal myself with a “No Vacancy” sign. People understand and don’t want to question how I grieve lest they be seen as callous or pushy. Friends ask if I’ve thought of dating or thinking of life beyond the moments immediately in front of me. They tentatively ask but always quick to say, “Not that I’m saying you should be…but are you?” But I’m beginning to look down the road, to stare at the horizon and not at the rocks at my feet on the road of widowhood I tread. I look at trees changing colors as Fall begins here and can for the first time see beauty in the change. I see it as wonderful and not another season that I’m without my darling Wesley.
Julia has grown so much in the two and a half years that Wesley has been gone. Physically, emotionally and intellectually. Wesley would love her childish obsession with Helen Keller and how she thirsts greedily for knowledge. Like Wesley did. She is my biggest reminder and physical representation of her dear father. She is happy and joyful and I realize that in my creating a world that is so marked by loss I fail to nurture that as I could. I cannot shroud myself in sadness and cast off joy with thoughtlessness. I feel Wesley’s strong hand at my back pushing me forward, taking my chin in his hand and lifting it to see light and the road ahead of me and whispering softly in my ear, “Look to the days ahead of you. Grab our child’s hand and soak upthe possibility of what might be and do not mourn what is lost.” In opening the door and stepping outside of my solitary sorrow community I am walking toward a future. And that is how I can best honor Wesley.