“Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.” – Tennyson
Most days it feels like I’m ploughing through time . Mondays and first few days after a holiday seem particularly difficult not because of the ‘get back to work’ blues but because the break has aggravated the sense of loss.
It takes a solitary afternoon walk between meetings, a coffee break and sometimes just old fashioned determination to get through the work day. And this is on days when I’m apparently doing better. The reason is that the sadness within is bottomless. In the beginning this sadness disguised itself as anger, frustration and denial. It still does but more often than not shows up in its true form.
The mind always turns back to the happy years gone by comparing that piece of lost heaven with the smoldering ruins of today. It’s a relentless battle within to come to terms with life as it is now. It might be the fact that I’m closing in on a year that is causing the pain to linger that bit more.
Probably the worst thing about loss is its permanence. There are no second chances. What is lost remains lost forever. Yes, we should focus on what we have too but in its all consuming intensity, that wisdom doesn’t help much.
The reason why we hate the platitudes and the well meaning but ultimately useless advice is the fact that our focus on the person we have lost is unwavering. The only thing that can make it better is that person and that is exactly what we have lost.
It’s such a hopeless conundrum. I find it particularly hard on the weekends and holidays because the person who demanded my time and attention is no longer there. I get tired of taking decisions on my own. I want to be challenged and argued with but all I get is silence.
You get tired of driving alone, eating alone and talking to yourself. When you do get with friends, the gap is even more glaring. They are all still with their partners while you are without yours. They still talk about money, career, shopping and the pleasures of a family while those things haven’t occurred to you in a while.
So every day a sadness lingers – a sadness of what was and what no longer is, a sadness of what could have been, a sadness of how different life has become. This part of grief is here to stay. In time the intensity may wither but I know I will always carry it within. I will always carry the heartbreak of shattered dreams.
It took me a while to realize that my loss was mine alone to carry. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. Grief despite its gruelling and all consuming nature is sacred. I have started to look upon it as a friend rather than an adversary that I have to fight. It keeps me company in my solitude and when I get tired of it, it pushes me forward.
I will be turning forty in March and the same month I get to a year without my wife. I stand at the crossroads , it’s a time of deep self reflection. I have come this far, I can surely go further. My past is now an integral part of me. I carry it lovingly for it is the balm that soothes my wounds as I move forward in this journey, one day at a time and many little steps each day. There are some steps forward and some back. The important thing is to keep traveling .