I’ve just spent 17 years working at my dream of being married and having a family. It’s funny–I spent all my young life planning for college, career, marriage, children. I had specific goals, and looking back, I believe I accomplished them just as I had always envisioned.
But, I never had a long-term vision for what came next. Pat talked often about our future, even asking my thoughts on retirement age–how we’d like to plan for it and live it and grow old together. He often became frustrated with me because I could never give answers. He wanted to plan for specific dreams, but I never had a vision to provide.
Now, he is gone–all his dreams obliterated. Pat had a love for living. I was more hesitant. Yet, here I am–the one who had no clear insight into what my future would hold.
Since Pat died, I have been completely blocking out my future. It has been excruciating to look ahead and know that my one true given, Patrick, will not be in my plans. Anything new that I or the kids do now is painful because Pat’s not here to share with us–we have made new friends, deepened relationships, progressed and grown. I used to share EVERY detail of this with Pat every night. It’s been difficult for me to even schedule and look ahead a week at a time.
I have progressed from simply surviving breath to breath. I am at the day-to-day survival point, but I feel at the cusp of being able to look forward.
One huge hurdle for me in grieving is accepting that Patrick was a “segment” of my life, not a constant, forever, riding-into-the-sunset relationship.
Suddenly, I feel drawn to learn about who I was before this segment. Reading my journal entries is revealing, yet tragic.
Four days before I first met Pat, I wrote:
April 21, 1991
Sometimes I really thrill at being single and independent and cringe at some of the hard times a close relationship can bring. More often, I lament that I don’t have one man, my soulmate, to whom I could be so close.
Right now is one of those times I crave it strongly. I crave a strong, core love. I don’t want to give up on that love, to compromise my dream for that man. No person can fulfill all I need, want. I wonder the price I’m going to have to pay for dreaming.
Someone’s got to be out there. I can’t give up on that belief.
Life is hard. Life is complex. Life can be confusing. Life is full of beauty. I try to cut life down to simplicities. It can’t be.
Maybe that’s my problem. I need to give that kind of love and stop worrying about when I’m going to get it.
And then, a couple of weeks later, after meeting Pat and spending lots of time with him right away:
May 13, 1991
Life can be unpredictable.
I’m falling. Slowly. More and more. It’s really kind of exciting. A different kind of exciting from the usual infatuation. I’ll get sudden fleeting feelings or recognitions of things I’ve been looking for all along.
Never know what the future holds, so I don’t want to plan, hope for it. Just take one thing at a time. I’m kind of excited to see, to experience how things will work out…
Then, anxieties of loss and death:
June 2, 1991
Scary. It seems the more I like him, the more scared I get that I’d lose him. That makes me feel so vulnerable. Makes me want to clutch, hold him tight.
Strange thoughts. Either I need to die before anyone remotely close to me dies or I just never can get close to anyone. Seems incredible that death really is so normal–part of life–people see their loved ones die every day, minute–it’s happening all around me.
I’m not sure I could handle it. I really don’t know if I could. Right now–working on being positive, loving life, seeing the beauty in all life. That means I must see the beauty in death. But, that’s one thing I cannot do—my, how painful—excruciatingly, emotional wrackingly hurting. So FINAL. NO MORE.
Pictures, name, possessions–what do they mean after a loved one dies? They can’t bring him back. Sure, you have memories, but can you touch him, hear him–most of all know him at that moment—know an everchanging, always unpredictable (for all humans are) person?!
Memories are so permanent. They’re there and they never change. They can’t even be relived justifiably—the way they change is dishonestly—we make them worse or better—whatever way we want to at the present moment. How we’re feeling now and what we need.
Is Now all that really matters?! Now, the pain, the loss—relive it. Pictures, remnants, paraphernalia, voice recordings, video tapes. What about the PERSON? What does make up the person?! Those are mere parts.
TEARS AND LAUGHTER. Stop trying so hard. Let me be.
Death sure puts life into perspective. View life in its true relationship or relative importance.
Right now, struggling to find out what I want to do for the rest of my life. Some things seem so inconsequential. Why do we do some things–petty–if they mean absolutely zilch in the whole of things?
I can begin to see the beauty in death when thinking about it theoretically, abstractly, philosophically. But not practically, nowedly, my-loved-onesly.