Last night, I was laying down to sleep and my mind was so lost that I couldn’t even pick out what it was even trying to focus on thinking about. Then, out of the blue, an exercise popped into my head. It was the one where you write yourself a note or letter. One where you are objective and look at yourself as an outsider and offer some kind words and understanding. I realized I was a jumble of tangled emotions and the picture of Christmas lights popped into my head. You know, the ones where in haste, the lights are thrown into a container and somehow during the storage period, they all get intertwined and when you reach in next time to use them, they are so tangled that it feels like it would be easier to pitch them and go buy new ones.
And so I wrote: Dear Sal, I know it hurts and you just don’t even know how to feel your way through all of the emotions. You feel sad, alone, unsure, doubting and like all of the emotions are wrapped in a knot that feels like it won’t ever be undone. You use to have this other person to love, to blame, to lean on, to have an excuse about and now you don’t. Now its just you and you’re not sure where yourself really starts and stops because it was always intertwined with Ted. Now there is this scary prospect of finding out who you really are, where you want to go with life, what you want to do. Take your time and think about that. Be honest with yourself. I know you are mad too. Mad that you have to deal with shit you don’t want to even look at. Tired of thinking about what needs to be done. tired of waking up and not getting back to sleep. So desperately not wanting to deal with bills and decisions even though you have been the only one to pay bills for 32 years.
Then I got a text from a friend who’s sister also just lost her husband. She said that she was thinking of me and her sister and that today would have been their 33rd anniversary. She also included the photo below. (it wasn’t the first time someone sent it to me, but I’ll include it because it is a good one and one I agree with)
I tried to think of a response, but was feeling so raw in connecting my pain and her sister’s pain and knowing that while similar, we are also different, that again, my emotional christmas lights were too jumbled to untangle so as to even write a message in response.
I simply fell asleep and actually slept till around 4 in the morning. I awoke thinking about my friend and her sister and how to formulate a response. I finally responded to the anniversary reference.
“Thirty three years. My Ted and I just celebrated 32 in August – a few days after Koo’s birthday. I hope it has been a good day for her. One where she picked a few things to do or eat that she knew they both would have loved to do together. I hope this one day was free of the mess of emotions that follows the death of a long time love and spouse. I cry for her or maybe I’m just crying for me. Or both. I hope she is able to look in wonder at what must be rushing in from all corners of her life to fill the void of the loss of a great one. It’s hard to not just get stuck in feeling the void. I know, as I feel her void and mine so deeply right now. For me, it is like looking at the Grand Canyon. It is beautiful and daunting and you can’t ever see or capture all of it in one look or picture, so you feel like you can’t really ever describe it fully. Hugs to Julia and to you both for your friendship.”
I thought I had felt through enough emotions in the past many hours, but when I got to work, I remembered that our owner and one of the sales guys had gone to visit another of our sales guys who has declined in health rather rapidly and was just put onto hospice. In recounting their stories of their visit, it brought me back to Ted in the hospital and his last decline. It was relayed that if I wanted to visit, that I should get to his home soon, as it wasn’t looking good. I had to admit that it might be cowardice, but I wasn’t feeling like I could face that situation right now. Seeing him in near coma and having to look at his wife in her desperate need to keep him alive felt like I’d be standing in front of a mirror that was on magnification and in that moment of contemplation, just didn’t want to see myself in his wife’s eyes.
The decision was not necessary, as he passed away before we even made it to the lunch hour. I thought about his wife and family again and how they will now have to work through having such a void in their lives and learn how to live in a space without his body but still so full of his spirit. Our entire office was sad and quiet for most of the remainder of the day.
Through all of this onslaught of events that were thrown at me today, through trying to convey responses and basic communications, I felt the tangle of emotions loosen. It felt like a few bulbs made their way out of the mess and more were readily available to lay out for use as well. I know there are still more tangles in there, but to get half a string free feels better.
And to balance out the heaviness of the past 20 hours or so, I received a message that my pregnant friend was heading to the hospital to have her baby. As I write, they are sending me photos from the hospital sharing their story of the birth of their first child. Happy hospital drama this time around. I’ll be glad to shed some tears for joy later when baby Rio arrives.