It’s the first day of the New Year. Just yesterday, I thought I was doing well, adjusting to the loss of losing my husband. I answered a questionnaire sent to me in the mail from Hospice of the Valley. “Are you able to get through the day without bursting into tears?” Yes. “Are you able to read a book, a newspaper, or watch a movie without dwelling on your loss?” Yes. “Are you able to be with other women or men without mentioning your husband’s name?” Yes.
But that was yesterday.
Today it all changed. The weight of my loss became unbearable, no matter what I did. My legs felt like lead while I exercised. They were heavy and sluggish, and I felt as if I had weights on both ankles. A series of waves traveled toward my stomach and continued on up to my throat; dense waves, the ones that take over your body, tangle your legs and inners and drown you if you don’t see them coming. The ones that gather strength as they take unrelenting control of your physical and mental state and leave you lying on the floor in a fetal position crying out for something or somebody that no longer exists.
When darkness comes, I walk our dog, SiSi. I’m dressed in a heavy winter jacket, velveteen cap, and leather gloves as I travel familiar ground. We go to a park nearby my house where I sit on a bench, my body stiff. I whistle for my dog, which is not so easy with numb lips, and then she sits there next to the bench, whimpering softly, as she presses her snout against my knees. I hear a howling sound from the bare treetops bending over as they whip to the south. I crouch down to SiSi as I stroke her head. As I straighten up, I pull the zipper toward my chin and roll up my turtle neck sweater to protect my lower jaws from the blowing cold. And in a soft voice, I cry out for my husband, feeling my tears slowing making their way down my cheeks, not caring about who might hear me, partly wishing someone might notice a stranger crying and comfort me in the darkness.