When I started my journey down this path of grief, I was told by many that this type of grief is one that you never get over. There is some truth to this statement, however I am finding you never forget and certain situations will arise that can take you back to a level of the grief that you thought was behind you.
I had one of those experiences this past weekend. As I mentioned in a previous post,my husband has been gone 39 months, and as of this post, it’s now almost 40. Also could be referred to as 3 years and 4 months! My husband’s passion was trains. He loved them! At one time he was into the HO gauge trains, but somewhere early in our marriage as a result of me seeing the G scale trains in a hobby shop, he left the HO and was totally into the G scale. These can be run outdoors as a garden railroad. Over the years his outdoor garden railroad kept growing and growing. He spent hours outside with his trains, especially after he retired. His platform was a complete labor of love.
After his passing I couldn’t even think about taking the railroad down. There was so much of him in there. I didn’t need to demo it for any particular reason, so I just left it to be dealt with when I felt the emotional time was right. It also took me some time to find someone who was willing to do the demo. Well, this past Saturday was the final demo day. I watched the years of loving hard work and enjoyment go into a dump truck. I thought I was completely ready for this, but after it was all hauled away and I stood in the leveled dirt where all trains used to run, I was taken back to the early days of the painful grief. I looked around with tears in my eyes and that knife in my gut feeling and thought, “This really has happened”. It was that surreal feeling once again even after all these months.
Saturday was a difficult day! This is what was meant when I was told you never get over it. My wounds have only scabbed over they haven’t formed solid scares, and the scab was ripped open again. It wasn’t as painful or intense and neither did it last as long as the waves of grief lasted in the beginning, but it definitely was a wave.
Yes, I can honestly say I have made progress in moving forward through this grief. However, the reality is that there will be situations, events, circumstances that will scratch the scab. No one will receive a diploma for the completion of this grief!
It has been 39 months since my husband’s passing. Sometimes I will refer to this passage of time in years, but just as with babies, I still tend to use months. I feel that I have moved forward in many ways during these “months”, but there are still times when I stop and question whether all this has really happened.
My story started on a Friday night in the middle of July in 2013. It was teaming rain that evening and my husband could hardly breathe or talk. I thought he might have pneumonia and called our family doctor. I was to take him to an ER for a chest X-ray. At this point it had been raining so hard and so heavily that roads were flooding. I couldn’t get to the hospital, so we went to a local urgent care. He did in fact have pneumonia, but they also found a mass in his chest. I remember my whole body going numb at the sound of those words. This is not at all what I had expected to hear. The next five weeks were a roller coaster of medical tests, doctors visits, emotions and fear. Everything just seemed to be going down hill and quickly. When I think back on this time frame, a lot of it seems like a blur, everything happened so fast. It was such a whirlwind that I didn’t have time to tell many people what was happening. Only a select few even knew. I felt like my world was falling apart and I was all by myself. Exactly 5 weeks from the Friday night in the urgent care to Friday night in the hospital, at around the same time that we were told of the mass, my Husband took his last breath. He died in my arms.
I was in total shock! It wasn’t until around 3 that very afternoon that I even let the thought that he might pass even enter into my thinking. I was preparing myself for “the battle”! But, there really wasn’t much of a battle, it was such a fast and ferocious journey that ended sooner than I had ever expected it too. My wonderful life with him had just come to an abrupt end!
The hours and days that followed were spent in numbness and shock. I felt like I had been shot up with novocaine. I wasn’t even sure I was breathing! I have never felt this deep level of emotion and intensity. It’s difficult to put in exact words the enormousness of these emotions. I had a friend staying with me for part of the first week, but then I was on my own to cope. I somehow managed to keep functioning, but it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Fortunately I was able to get out of bed everyday and I credit this to my two dogs and cat. I had to keep taking care of them. I had to survive for them and only them. They were the only ones on earth who needed me now.
There were the usual things that had to be taken care of after a person passes and somehow I managed to get it all done. Thinking back on it now though, I don’t remember a whole lot of it. I think I was just on auto pilot and mushed my way through. What needed to be done at the time did get done, but my memory of all this is a blur!
I was told by someone when all this happened that I would “survive” this! Although I have made it 39 months, I still do have moments of doubt that I can keep going, but each day I do. I have heard this experience of loosing your spouse referred to as an “amputation”! I think that is the best word that sums it all up. A huge piece of my my life was amputated that night and my new life is growing back very slowly.