Looking at the Spaces

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This is the worst moment yet. I am simultaneously everything: lost, hurt, scared; confidant, secure, independent. I want to scream. I want to sleep. I am tired, but can’t sleep. I have energy found since I am not physically tending to Dave any longer. I can’t seem to give the energy much focus. I want to move and I want to sit. I shouldn’t have had the last cup of coffee.

There is something to the day / night, weekend pattern. Even though Dave was home for an entire year the world operates on the 9 to 5 corporate clock – television, visitors, me, life. I have done well during the day. But each night I crack. Sometimes just a little, sometimes with gusto. This morning, a Saturday, I am feeling loss. Emptiness. Fear. Crazy. I am not crying. I am simply beside myself.

I am remembering a recent moment with Dave. We were sitting up at the side of the bed. He had what I now recognize as his “other worldly” demeanor. Talking gently, but a bit distant, especially in his eyes. He had been thinking – not so much in the intellectual sense – rather pondering, about life I supposed. He ran his fingers along my arm, outlining an invisible shape. It was just one of our quiet moments, together, knowing time is limited. “What are you looking at?” I asked. “I am looking at the spaces,” he answered.

It struck me then as it does now: looking at the spaces. How do you see the “spaces?” Isn’t that empty – space?

I’m looking at the spaces all around me now. That’s what hurts. The spaces. What was isn’t. With every missing sound, or item not placed back as it was, when he was alive, I see the space. It is the evening and weekends that I am looking at the space he used to fill with years of time and routine in our history. It is seeing the moment of death when there were millions of moments that made up our lives. Why does the space take precedence?

It would be easy to make the emotional and sentimental attachment to the things that have filled the spaces and magnify their importance. But I see them as things. Yet, I feel a bit of a betrayal to his memory when I don’t move those things back to where they were. For me, I need change. I need to rearrange and reorder all the things – furniture, art, coverings the top layer of what is seen. What’s underneath still remains. Clearing and changing is my form of control. Others may want to reestablish the exactness of before. That is their control. Who is that important to? Is this the tug to conform to what is expected of me in my grief?

Leah and I had a great discussion yesterday on our current state of grief. We’ve both done a lot of the “work” of grief in the past year. It gives us peace now and a sense of being able to operate heavy equipment in the immediate aftermath of loss. It seems almost surreal to be comfortable with such a significant person gone from our physical world. Perhaps it is because we know and can express how deeply he is ingrained in our hearts and minds.

For us, we have had the burden of knowing throughout the last 23 years (with his first cancer diagnosis of Hodgkins Disease) that this time would come. With such prediction you learn to either live with purpose or live with dread. You never take time for granted. You learn to never sweat the small stuff. You pick your battles for what matters.

We learned to see the spaces.

2 replies
  1. Sandy Keith
    Sandy Keith says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I truly understand how you feel and the “alone-ness” inside you even though you may be surrounded by family and friends. Next month, I will have been a widow for two years. My husband of 53 years had Parkinson’s disease and while I cared for him for a long time, I eventually grew so exhausted I had to employ a nurse. Our paths have been different; the pain of loss we both carry is the same. God bless you.

    • joan
      joan says:

      Thank you, Sandy. Wow. 53 years of marriage makes a lot of stories! I extend my condolences to you as well. Thank you for validating that we all walk different roads to the same stories of how loss feels and that we are not completely alone. It helps.


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