November 16, 2014, I watched the love of my life take his last breath. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I stood quietly watching the world move around me and I stood still. I don’t even think I realized what was happening, or I did and could not bear to feel it.
I walked into the hallway and stood with the nurse signing papers and talking about removing the body as if we were arranging a coffee date.
“In about an hour okay?”
“Sure…my schedule is open?”
I heard a noise from the room where I’d just left my husband for the last time and I looked up at the nurse and said, “Was that him?” As if he’d suddenly come back. I remember these details and realize that while I was standing there, I was not there at all.
“That’s the room next door”, she answered gently, “Would you like to say goodbye again?” I’m sure at this point she realized she had a real nut job on her hands and though I didn’t want to I felt like what kind of wife says no? So I followed her back into the room to stare at my lifeless husband and say goodbye. Again.
“Come back in a better vessel.” I said.
Really. Those are the words I actually said.
I walked out and never laid eyes on his beautiful face again.
Only now do I realize, that night when he took his final breath, my soul was inhaled right along with his.
There is an awful thing that comes with knowing you are dead. The first thing is when you realize your heart is still beating. That’s not something I expected since, you know, I’m dead and all.
There was even a tiny twinge of jealousy as I watched him leave. Knowing he took me too, yet here I stand.
“One foot in front of the other, one day at a time,” that’s the motto, the advice you’re given when you are 30 years old and your husband dies leaving you with a bouncing baby girl.
I’ve stared at her so many times wondering how I’ll take care of this tiny human who is very much alive. She does not know her mother is a walking zombie of the woman she once was. She does not understand that while my heart is beating, it is very much broken.
New Year’s Eve was nearly rock bottom for me. I booked a hotel down the street in hopes of a fun Mommy/daughter adventure. We can swim and drink sparkling grape juice and watch movies, yes, the perfect distraction, I thought as I clicked my credit card number into the hotel website.
We went with the best of intentions. After two hours of swimming in an over chlorinated pool and struggling to carry my wet toddler (who insisted on wearing princess heels on the slippery tile floor), I was done. I stood staring at our hotel room sobbing as I realized it was only 5:30pm and we were never going to make it to midnight or even downstairs to eat dinner. I hung my head and packed us up, shaking my head at the $93 dollars I’d spent. I loaded my 3 year old in the car and shamefully called my parents to see if we could come crash on their couch.
Tears streamed down my face as the sounds of You Tube kids blared from the backseat. The crippling loneliness was just starting to feel unbearable when I heard a familiar voice.
“Mommy, look. It’s daddy!”
Somehow she’d opened a folder or the cloud or some album I can never even find and was playing the very last video her daddy left for me.
“If you’re looking at this, then I’m probably already gone,” his voice said, “I know it’s hard, having the baby all by yourself and I wish I could be there with you.”
I listened as the only voice that could calm my heart said everything I needed to hear. On repeat, because toddlers.
For the last two years, I’ve laid in bed asking myself, “What do you want?”
I could not answer beyond, “him” and sometimes the faint echoing of “and a cheeseburger”.
One foot in front of the other has been my only sense of survival. Getting through this day, getting through this event, taking a vacation, more distractions, more trips and plans. more quick fixes and instant gratification. I’ve been covering an open wound with Scooby-Doo band-aids and trying to swim through shark invested waters.
I know the day he died, that I went too.
That girl is gone but who is the person I still see?
I’m ready to live again.