2 years ago this morning, it was cold and rainy. 2 years ago this morning, I opted not to go swimming. 2 years ago this morning, I dozed on the couch with a pillow over my head until 2 am, when I awakened to the absence of noise. 2 years ago this morning, I ran my fingers through Jim’s hair for the last time, cleared copious amounts of mucous from his face, kissed his forehead, and said goodbye. 2 years ago this morning, as I watched the funeral home remove his body from my living room, I couldn’t imagine anything darker than death. 2 years ago this morning, I played “The Great Storm is Over” on auto repeat for about 3 hours. This morning, I awoke to blowing snow. I went swimming even though I was cold. Instead of waking at the usual 3:30 am, I awoke abruptly a little after 2 am with a single word message, “BAM!” I’ve been clearing copious amounts of mucous from my respiratory tract due to a cold I caught during the overnight on the river. I’ve played Josh Ritter’s “Lantern”, understand fully the line, “it’s as dark as death, and gets darker yet.” Other folks that have lost a spouse, say that the 2nd year is harder than the first. They are right.
During the year plus that Jim was fighting cancer, it was, rightfully, all about Jim. His entry into the cancer world, his bucket list, supporting his adventures, and eventually caring for him in his decline and in his death. The first year of widowhood was about shock and awe, pity and gratitude. People were gentle with me, and forgiving with me and their loved ones. It was my time, and my turn. I nurtured myself with old traditions and routines, and celebrated with new adventures. I cleaned, I cleared, I reclaimed space. I felt nourished and nestled by my family and my community. I cried a lot. I laughed even more. Fresh grief is a manic-depressive state and I was making it through. No medication, lots of difficulty sleeping, the occasional glass or 2 of wine to numb things, and with a lot of help from my friends. Jim’s illness and death were all about him. The first year of widowhood was all about me.
The second year of widowhood, I had to come to terms with harder concepts. Everything changes, and everything ends. People, including myself, are not always loving and kind. Friends that I held near and dear, drifted away once the shock and awe were over. Life has a way of going on, it is not always fair, and things certainly don’t always go according to plan. As if disease and death were not enough, my community of friends suffered a rash of incidents where grownups were behaving very badly. Pain is a part of life. Old routines and traditions began to feel like ruts. Adventures didn’t happen unless I went through the work of planning them myself. My reclaimed space houses only me and a dog, and it sometimes feels like more of a prison than a nest. I still cry sometimes, but is more from general loneliness than the hole created by Jim’s death. Wine doesn’t numb that, it makes it worse. Loneliness, my own and seeing it in others, is darker than death.
Went to Burgdorf this weekend. Didn’t really plan for it to be the weekend of the deathiversary, it just turned out that way. Calculated that I have been to Burgdorf at least 25 times. Traditions such as a summit beer and a pig pile are new, but getting in, and out, of there before the snow flies in earnest has happened for a long time. The usual Burgdorf sleep was elusive. I watched Orion fade into dawn from immersion in hot water on both mornings. It was lovely to spend time with friends that have remained steadfast, to be reminded again that I was loved imperfectly by an imperfect man in all my imperfection. Many people never experience that kind of love in a lifetime, and Jim did leave me with 2 perfect children, who never let me descend into loneliness for too long.
So. Here comes the 3rd year of widowhood, and the message from the universe is BAM! Looked it up in the wiki dictionary, and it states: 1)Representing a loud noise or heavy impact. 2)Representing a sudden or abrupt occurrence. Of course, it is also an acronym for Bare Ass Minimum. I really don’t have a clue, but it did make me laugh, and the loneliness has abated for the time being. You have any ideas?