“If I die, I will wait for you, do you understand? No matter how long. I will watch from beyond to make sure you live every year you have to its fullest, and then we’ll have so much to talk about when I see you again..”
Thursday marked a calendar year in my journey of afterloss. While memories of that fateful day have tormented me much over the past year, I’m glad to say that they never have been the focus. As in life and as in death, my wife’s extraordinary character has always shone through.
But that hasn’t made handling this devastating loss any easier. It has been an immensely difficult and lonely time. While lot of people can’t believe that a year is already past,I have felt the burden of each day.
If there is some relief today it is for the fact that I will never ever have to go through that again. The first few days, weeks and months, the inhuman intensity of the pain – something that I thought never could exist. At times it completely debilitated me but I have carried on. I have had no other choice but to get up every day – get my son ready for school, and after a few hours break go to work and just do whatever was needed to get through the day. And the same thing the next day followed by the next..
Holidays and weekends have been particularly bad. Most weekend evenings have been spent alone either at home doing nothing or when it became too much, just taking long walks. The family life we had has been completely dismantled. There are no more late nights or enjoyable evenings because she isn’t around.
I believe a lot is made out of a year ending. I don’t know how life changes tomorrow just because it’s been a year. Loss is loss even after a year. It still hurts as bad and I still don’t have a clue about the crushing loneliness that permeates everything.
You can say that I’ve been stuck in my past. The memories of happy days together have sustained me through this dark period. I know much is made of staying in the present but sometimes the present is so hollow that you have to find shelter in the warm embers of the past.
It’s been a year of remembrances. Not a minute has gone by when I haven’t thought of all the memories that we made together. Our years together have been a gift, a privilege. Even if I don’t achieve anything else in life, I will be content for I have those years with me.
It’s been a year of missing her and the world that disappeared with her. The innocence of our lives and the pure happiness of her presence, I have yearned for these but have found them elusive.
It’s been a year where I have gone on vacations with my son and felt the most excruciating loneliness that I ever thought was possible. I have stood alone in the most beautiful places and failed to register the beauty that lay around and above me.
It’s been a year where I have stared the walls for hours and done nothing else on many days. It’s been a year when I have read only books, memoirs and blogs on grief and loss. It’s been a year when I have lived a parallel life in my mind – a life that we were denied.
It’s been a year when I have talked so less even by my own standards because I have had no one to talk to. And yet, when someone has offered to talk or listen I have found myself short of words to say.
In reality I’ve been frozen in time, the world has gone through an entire year but I haven’t moved with it. I haven’t felt the need to be in sync with a world where loss is just another word till it happens to you.
I went through many firsts in this lonesome year and somehow got through them all. One thing that helped was the thought that these were happy occasions in the past – birthdays, our anniversary. But when the last of the firsts came, there wasn’t anything remotely happy about it.
I couldn’t just ignore the day, I wanted to mark it with love and respect even though the sadness was just so overwhelming. So I took the day off but when I got up in the morning, I found that in the absence of routine there was nowhere to go.
So I went back to the hospital, to the place where it all ended. It was also a place where we fought to live together. It’s no longer a place that frightens me. The last time I left, I thought I would never come back.
But I came back on this day, parked in the familiar parking lot. I noticed so much had changed in a year, the buildings had a fresh coat of paint now. I didn’t go inside for there was nothing in there for me.
Instead I walked around the building and walked to a nearby cafe. We used to frequent this place after our marriage. I used to work nearby and we would meet here in the evenings. They were the happiest days of our lives.
I sat outside the cafe and watched the afternoon traffic. I had all the time and nowhere to go. The world seemed to move in slow motion and I felt I was watching myself from the outside.
I truly believe that our relationship continues in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago. A year ago, loss consumed me in its entirety, and it still does but I have realized that I can never lose what is within me – our timeless memories and love.
Most days it still hurts, there are often more tears than not but ever so slowly I’m discovering that I haven’t lost her after all. What I have searched all along and found elusive lies within me.