I’m not sure how to say this any other way, but it’s been a brutal few weeks for me.
Of course, healing from tragic loss is not linear. Every therapist loves to tell me that, and I believe it. Some days are terrible, some days are not, and there’s no specific progression.
In January, and for about six months afterwards, I felt really sad about my life. I felt like I might never be happy again, because how could I be?
But then, I started to see some hope. I had days when I felt good for much of the time, and I began to envision the future. I couldn’t imagine it exactly, but I started to think, “maybe I’ll get to that place where I will wake up happy.” I wanted to get there because I could still remember how that felt. It’s how I woke up for 38 years. Still, even though I was feeling better in the late summer, I wasn’t waking up happy. But I thought it was a possibility for my future.
By September, I was actually starting to feel much more like myself. My professional life (both at school and with writing) was going well. My kids seemed stable. I was finally managing to actually enjoy my life a bit.
And then it all came crashing down.
One day a few weeks ago, I woke up and I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. The emotions that flooded my brain were the same ones that I felt during Shawn’s cancer diagnosis and immediately after his death. The heartache, the pain, the anxiety about my future. I thought it was one bad day. But then that one bad day turned into another and then another and I found myself stuck. I realized that I was in a state of unhappiness more often than not.
I’m not totally sure why I’m hurting so much, but I do know that this season is the time that Shawn got sick last year. It was early October, and he complained a bit about some stomach issues. On October 10th he was so sick that we had a long text exchange about it, and from then on out, he was unable to do much at all.
So maybe it’s the change in the seasons, and the fact that I am now going to have to re-live his entire illness, diagnosis and death over the next three months. Or maybe it’s that I felt a glimmer of happiness for a few weeks and that messed up my previous ability to get through the days by keeping my head down and not thinking too much. Or maybe it’s that I’m starting to realize that this hellish year is going to come to a close….and Shawn will still be gone.
And I’ll still be here. Alone.
I’ve known this fact – that I’m facing the world alone – for a long time, and I’ve written about it before. But I think what I’ve come to internalize over the past few weeks is that I may feel this level of isolation forever.
Yes, I’m surrounded by the greatest friends. Yes, my kids love me so much that they seriously won’t give me a minute of free time. Yes, my dad is my constant rock and companion. Yes, my larger community still wraps their arms around my family every single day.
But there is nothing like having your person by your side.
Mine is gone.
And I am alone.