“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” Joan Didion wrote this in her book, “The Year of Magical Thinking”, when her husband of forty years suddenly died and this month of October sees the first anniversary of the death of my beloved girlfriend Elaine.
What do you do when the partner you loved and planned to spend the rest of your life with dies? For me, the world as I knew it was destroyed and I found myself sitting amidst an emotional tsunami of the like I had never faced before, whilst all around me life continued. I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family and although they cannot take away my pain and grief, their simple acts of kindness have made my connection to being in the world a little easier.
People sometimes use the phrase, “They never got over the death of…” and I have been reflecting on this recently. I feel that embedded within the phrase could lie an unhelpful perspective of transcendence in relation to the difficulty of losing a loved one. While we may wish for the people we care about to slowly move forward and not get lost in their grief, it could be more helpful for us to try holding the perspective that they may never get over the death of their loved one. Rather, the experience of loss is something that they will in time, learn to carry with them. The loss is now a part of them, it never leaves them but it also doesn’t define them as they begin to look towards the future, rebuilding their life.
Love, Tears, & Ginger Beer
I stood and watched you from outside the restaurant.
It was our second date,
You looked so beautiful, long golden hair falling down over your shoulders.
I gave you a gift, a book on archetypes.
If I had known what lay before us,
Would I have opened the door and stepped in?
We laughed and drank ginger beer.
You entertained me with your impersonations and funny stories,
I knew in that moment that I wanted to be with you.
The first time we made love you showed me your scars,
Where the surgeon’s knife had left its mark,
I kissed them tenderly in the hope that no part of you would feel unloved.
I look for you now in the morning bird song, your poetry, a photograph.
Then in the quiet stillness of the day, when I have exhausted all my longing
you come to me again.
Moist tears cover my body and I feel your love once more.