One Month On

Holding his hand

Today, February 5, it has been one month since my beloved husband let go on January 5th. I stayed the night with him the night before at the Hospice, holding his hand all.night.long. They kept telling me all day the 4th that “your husband is ‘close’ and not to expect him to live much longer.”

But as usual, my testadura — the ever stubborn — defied prognostications. He lived through the night, and died the next morning when I had to let go when the nurses needed to adjust him in his bed.

Today, one month on, how am I doing?

First, it is really hard to describe how it feels to lose a Spouse. Many of the friends of my age, including me, have experienced losing their grandparents and parents, but losing a Spouse is nowhere near the same.

I have moments of feeling utterly lost. Often I find myself asking “what would Spouse say?” … about so many things.

Will he like the master bath I am remodeling? (Probably not exactly what he wanted, but it is what I wanted and I need a functioning bathroom again, so that’s that.)

What would Spouse think about the photo collages of him that I have displayed in our living room where he kept his version of a home office? I know he liked the photos I selected, because each of them had the most views on his google drive where I uploaded literally thousands of photos from his and our past. Besides me, he was the only one with access, so “view counting” was an easy method to determine which photos he liked the best. Good thing — I like those “the best” too.

Spouse knows when I am talking about him. Last night on a Zoom call with some friends from a motorcycle club that Spouse and I once hung out with, I was talking about him. During that conversation, Spouse “threw” a bunch of DVDs and CDs that I had piled on top of a shelf above my computer at me. Clunk, crash, bang came down this pile right onto my keyboard!

That was Spouse, for sure. He never liked me to talk about him, particularly about his illness, pain, suffering, and loss of the man he was physically.

Moving on — I have moments of deep grief and sadness that sometimes overwhelm. I cry, and cry hard still. Not all day, not every hour, but at the silliest things that trigger me.

Hearing a noise that was a familiar sign of Spouse’s presence. Turning the heat down, because my Nanook of the North was always cold (and I am not.) Finding a pair of his shorts on the family room sofa. How they got there is still quite the mystery. Seeing one of his squirrels on the deck knocking at the door, asking “where is my human?”

I also have moments of determination. That is generally how I am. I am determined to live and live well, as Spouse discussed with me and what he wants me to do and become in my … new … life without him.

I am serving my community as a volunteer. Giving Covid-19 vaccinations, preparing meals and serving dinner at the fire houses within my fire department, and possibly returning to teaching Civics and History again — which I love — for those studying on-line for their U.S. Citizenship test.

I am still serving my “senior pals” with grocery shopping. I have to go to the store for myself anyway. While my friends don’t want to come with me because I go at 0630 once a week, I get the lists from 3 or 4 of them, buy what they request in separate purchases, and “door drop” to them on my way home. This still is nowhere near the same as I did “pre-pandemic,” but will have to do (for now.)

I prepared dough and and baked chocolate chip cookies for my friend who is a local motor officer and who is helping me sell my Harley. Great visit with my buddy yesterday; refreshing to my soul to speak with such a compassionate and kind man.

Also, I am gathering boxes of receipts and paperwork to help a few senior pals with their tax returns. There are a few for whom I have been preparing tax returns for over a decade. I am not going to stop now just because of the pandemic. We just keep physical distance and when I prepare taxes, I have learned how to do that on one screen of my computer and Zoom (videochat) with the person I am helping on the other screen.

Keeping busy keeps me distracted. Will Spouse think (again), “are you overextending yourself?” Well, my love, you should know the offers I have turned down. I have not said “yes” to everything that comes along. (Really!)

I know the deep grief and sadness I am feeling is “normal” so grief counselors and my therapist tell me.

But the grief has been manifesting itself in causing my long-term intestinal disorder to flare again. It hurts and is, um, “disturbing.” I overcame my reticence to get treated for it when I had a really bad night the other night. I scheduled my next injection of a treatment for it. My friend who is a paramedic will accompany me, and I will stay at his house afterwords in case I have a bad reaction like I did last time, so he can treat me. Not the same as being watched by my husband, but being cared for by my ol’ friend and training partner of long ago ain’t so bad.

I continue to “see” my therapist (on-line) every other week. I opted to spread out the schedule to every two weeks instead of weekly as my needs no longer are as urgent as they were when Spouse was so bad last Autumn. I also continue to participate in a Support Group for Bereaved Spouses weekly. That helps, too, though it is still early days, as they say.

Since I have always been “the cook,” I am eating well (and my at-home Chef that my husband got me still guides me).

Adjusting to eating alone is the hardest part. But every night for dinner, I cook a meal from scratch. With the intestinal disease flares, though, I have had to make more adjustments, but I AM eating what I can tolerate and keeping hydrated with lots of water. (BTW, don’t worry about alcohol or mind-altering drugs — I have neither in the house and am not inclined to start now.)

Also, I still meditate daily. I get myself out to our back yard — even in snow, wet, and mud that I have to “hose off” before coming in (or Spouse would “kill me” for tracking in clods of dirt). About 30 minutes every day. Very calming, soothing, and centering.

One month out, I am sad, lonely, and feeling lost. My friends don’t know what to say or how to console me.

What I need and want is to hear about life again. How are things going in your world? Life lives on, and I feel better knowing about your life, toils, struggles, achievements, and children & families. It’s okay, and I invite email again. Go ahead — contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

If I do not answer an email quickly, I am probably volunteering somewhere. I will get back to you.

BTW, I still do not send or receive text messages.

One month on… so many things I still want to ask Spouse, prime being “What did you do with the shelves I took down from the laundry room?” I.still.can’t.find.them. (and the shelving was not thrown away!)

Overall, I am taking it day by day, hour by hour some times. The loneliness is the hardest thing to deal with — the loss of my intellectual equal continues. I guess that’s what hurts the most and will be the most difficult to reset.

Life is short: put one boot in front of the other and keep walking.

1 thought on “One Month On

  1. I read your letter here filled with your emotions. So moving. Deep love. Be well dear friend. I cannot imagine your pain, your grief. Yes, it’s still hard to say anything that will be consoling, or just to find the words… Spouse had a great husband. I’m sure that he is looking over you and is still there, if not physically, in your broken heart.

    I’m glad that you are continuing your good community deeds. You’re a wonderful person. You know how I respect you and love all that you do. You’re a truly beautiful man.

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