“It started to make sense to her now, how people that undergo terrible loss or tragedy manage to keep living. She never really understood it before, but the thing was the body will shock you, so that maybe you don’t believe it all at once. And then, if you keep moving, a day goes by, and another. And since the worst thing you ever imagined actually came true, that becomes your reality, something else takes the place in your mind, and you continue on.” – from The Smart One by Jenifer Close
I don’t know if it’s exactly that you don’t believe it all at once. It’s more like you can’t take in the finality of it all at once. It takes a while for death to become a day-to-day reality. Sometimes it will just hit you: this is how it is going to be from now on. And you go on, living that new reality as best you can.
I think about that phrase, “the worst thing you ever imagined actually came true”. I think sometimes it makes me a little reckless – as if, what have I got to lose? I have to be careful to remember I still have children and grandchildren who need me.
I am slowly reading a book called A Widow’s Journey by Gayle Roper. It is like picking up someone’s journal and almost mistaking it for my own. Her husband’s name was also Chuck and the things she relates hit so close to home it’s weird. But in a helpful way.
She talks about how much of her schedule revolved around her husband’s schedule. “I sometimes thought how much I’d love to do what I wanted when I wanted. Now there’s no one to build my life around. I set my own schedule, and it’s scary to have the freedom I thought I wanted.” Wow – so honest. And so me.
She ponders which is better, a prolonged decline to the end of life or a quick death. She tells of the difference between herself and her friend who are both widows, yet with different experiences.
“We both lie alone at night. We both cook for one. We both lug our garbage to the curb each week…but our ache is the same.”
I found such a friend yesterday. She became a widow about a month and a half after me, but she had essentially lost her husband long before to dementia. Finding these kindred spirits has been a blessing from God, my Father who is watching over me.
I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble. Psalm 142:1-2