I was walking downtown the other day and started to think about what it would be like if I ran into my husband. I know, I know. There is no way that I am going to suddenly see my husband casually walking down K street or any other street near my office or my home but this is how your mind works sometimes after someone you love very much has died whether it’s a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend.
Granted, my husband died eight years ago but sometimes when I’m walking my mind wanders and one thought leads to another and then I start to think about things that happened years ago and then I just really want to see HIM; not his picture; or some mental image that I call up from memory. But the real live person. And even though I know that’s not going to happen, for some reason my brain or my memory bank hasn’t completely computed this concept of finality.
You probably are surprised that this whole “missing the person” thought process happens after all these years and I’m surprised too. It used to happen a lot immediately following his death. Now it comes and goes in a different way, but it still catches me off guard. Eight years is a long time and it seems like that would be enough time for your brain to wrap itself around this life changing loss don’t you think? I know you’re nodding with me in agreement! Oh well….I don’t feel this way just about my husband. Sadly, various close friends and relatives have died over the last several years and every now and then I think about them and want to see them too. The feeling of wanting to see my husband is stronger than the feelings I have about other people who have died but I think everyone reaches a point of thinking, “Okay you’ve been gone long enough. When am I going to see you again?”
I think this may be one of the reasons why people find it hard to understand why you’re not “over it.” It’s because you don’t get “over it.” It’s not like the chicken pox or poison ivy. You learn to live with it. You learn to go with it. You learn to put it in a mental box and lock it up for awhile and then bring it out every once in a while when you’re feeling strong.
The road to healing for me is winding and bumpy. I know I am going in the right direction but sometimes I have to stop and rest. I am going forward with my life. I am living my life, socializing, working, making plans but then, at the weirdest times, a memory or a feeling will suddenly trigger my desire to see my husband. Not my husband as he was when he was very sick but my husand the way he was when we first married.
I am always working on letting go of the way my life used to be because it is my life. It’s a life that I used to share with my husband but now that is gone and I try, with the support of others, to push through to the other side of loss because I have to. I know I have to accept and find balance.
But it’s almost impossible to stop your brain from wandering.