I still don’t know how to respond and often wonder what people really want to know when they ask how I’m doing or family or how any of us are really? Do people really want to know the truth? I know some people do. Do I really want to be honest? Sometimes saying that I’m okay is easier and less painful for all involved.
Do I really want to write this now? I don’t know…it’s 4am.
Do people want to know that panic attacks are a fairly common occurrence in my life now? Or that I rarely get out of bed before noon, and often it is closer to 1 or 2pm, after not being able to fall asleep until 3 or 4 or 5am. That going to bed is the most dreadful part of my day, maybe only next to knowing that I’ll probably have to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. Do people want to know that every night I see flashbacks of Will struggling to breathe? That I have woken up hearing him call for me? That I dream about him almost every night? Most of those dreams involve him being sick and me trying to figure out how to help him. Some dreams, I know I’m a widow and his absence is just as real there as when I’m awake. There is no escaping this reality. So, I spend much of my time going to therapy, thinking, writing, filling pages of journals with questions, and thoughts, and letters to Will… and I cry.
There has been an abundance of love and care and people that have saved me and I am incredibly grateful. I am grateful for every letter, email, call, text, visit, conversation and all the help I have been given. Yes, there have been some insensitive words over these months too. But, that is why I have two really good therapists…and, there is grace. Do any of us really know how to do this? How does the world lose Will, how do we lose Will, and then know what to do? Friends of ours had a quote of Ernest Hemingway in their apartment that read, “The first draft of everything is shit.” I’ve thought about that a lot. Maybe that applies to life too. How are any of us suppose to know how to do this life? I didn’t know how to be a wife at 24. I don’t know how to be a widow at 33. Life can be so hard and we’re going to mess up. We’re going to say the wrong words, hurtful words… I hope more often than not it is unintentional. I don’t know what I would say to my friend or family member if roles were reversed. I wish I could go back and love William better. I wish I could take back every hurtful thing I ever said to him. I learned, we learned, to love each other better over our years together. But, each day was like a new first draft in some ways. We were constantly changing and growing, circumstances were constantly changing. So, we’re always new people interacting with new people, in different circumstances. The closer you are to someone the more you change and grow together, I think. But, do any of us really know how to do this life? I don’t have a clue. I think I’ve said it before, but Will used to always tell me, “just do the next right thing.” I don’t know what the next right thing is. I think loving is always a good choice, but how can I love when I can hardly leave my room. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve had a good day, if I brushed my teeth. Other days I’ve been able to go through hours of Will’s music, get work done, go to therapy, eat a few meals, meet up with a friend. Then the next day I’m back to not getting out of bed.
I am not the same person I was before this and I never will be. Sadness, whether small or great, will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. How could it not be? William died. There is no good, no plan for my life, no future happiness, nothing that will change that. I’m not saying that nothing good will ever happen again…I don’t know. I’m not saying that there won’t be any good to come from this… I don’t know. I am saying that no good will change the horror that has happened. Even with a smile, there is a hell that lives in me every moment of everyday. I have hope…I really do hope…that heaven exists, that God truly loves us, and that one day we will be with Him in a place with no more sadness or tears… a place where love will far outweigh any suffering we experienced. But here…I don’t have hope that sadness will ever leave me. I will always know that Will is no longer here and his last 10 months were filled with excruciating suffering. My eyes have seen a horror that I had only heard about through other people’s stories, but did not know personally. Last year, now, it’s personal. It’s Will’s story, my story, our story.
Elie Weisel, said of the holocaust, “Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.” These are the words I have longed to read for months. The darkness of these words somehow comforts some of the darkness that I feel. This is not a hurdle to get over or a bump in the road. This is not a difficult time that shall pass. My eyes have seen what will never be forgotten. I will personally never know a world that does not involve an unimaginable horror. I will never not be able to cry out with compassion for the many who experience horrors that no one ever should. Horrors that I cannot imagine.
For me, it is not just the horror that we lived, losing Will is a horror in and of itself. I am thankful for the many moments that we shared. There were beautiful moments, really beautiful. Then, there are the moments, that I would choose to be nowhere else but by Will’s side, but that will also haunt me for the rest of my life. Those are the moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. I don’t know how to be a widow, who not only lost my spouse, but my best friend and partner in life. I don’t know how to live with the images I see every day. I don’t know how to live in a world that can be so horrific that it murders my own soul, murders my God, and yet still believe that both my soul and my God exist. I don’t know how to do this. I know we all live this life differently, experience it differently, engage it differently. Maybe I / we need to give ourselves and others grace as we go… the first draft is probably going to be shit and then…all we can do is to try to do the next right thing.