When I started this blog I chose black as the background for a few reasons. Obvious ones, like because that's how I felt, my existence was dark.....everything was unknown.....the future seemed overwhelming.....etc. Black of course was the perfect choice. I had this thought though, that as my grief progressed the shade would get lighter and lighter, until eventually....no more black. Back to white...back to color....back to life. It would be kind of a gauge, revealing how I was feeling and making my way through the process.
In over 2 years I have never felt like the time was right to lighten the color. I've thought about it at times.... maybe I could change it to a dark gray or just something ever-so-slight.... Nope. It never felt right.
I have wondered sometimes why I have not felt like I could move that gauge one step closer to "normal".
Absolutely my life has gradually been repairing over the last 2 1/2 years, a process that is still very much evolving. I am a different person than I was 3 years ago, not because I wanted to change, but because at times you have to evolve and adapt or else be defeated by life's hardships. My core is the same though, and my deep desire to live a beautiful and meaningful life (and all that means to me) has never completely left me. I struggled with it early on ("Can I still do this?"......"Is this still possible?") but the fact that I still wanted to do it, still thought about it, was evidence that it still existed inside me. Shattered into a million pieces, but thankfully, still present. It was proof that I really didn't die along with Joe that day (a feeling that I felt for a long time- dead inside but still painfully alive), that I was a person whole and separate from him.
The drive in me to someday live happily again is what has guided me more than anything else through this struggle. It has guided me both through the mundane aspects of life (the day-to-day) and also the deep-thinking type of deliberate choices I make for my life and family as a whole. Lots of times it was just going through the motions....doing stuff just to do stuff. Smiling because it felt the same as anything else my face could do...going places not because I wanted to but just because something was on the schedule. Literally going through the motions. As time passed I started to feel again, be more present and things started to feel less painful or less meaningless. But did things feel "better" enough to change the color here from black to gray?........No.
The agony of being a widow with young children is something I would never wish on anyone. It is an excrutiatingly painful existence at times. This is still real and present in my life. I don't clean the bathroom mirror without remembering when my husband hung it....or walk up my front stairs without picturing him building them. The reminders of him being with me are everywhere. I don't watch a movie without tearing up at the sight of a daughter dancing with her father at her wedding; or a son standing shoulder to shoulder with his father. My daughter still cries tears in her sleep at night saying things like "No! Daddy! I miss daddy!" and the endless agony and helplessness I feel when I hear her unconscious pleas still make my body go limp. All of it hurts. Just as much now as the day he died.
My father wrote once to me "I don't think I will ever get over Joe's death". My immediate reaction was- that absolutely must be false. Surely at some point we all would make some type of peace with this.....how could we go on and live and not get over it? I could not understand or accept that statement from him.
However, as time passed, my father's words began to make sense to me. And I do not believe anymore that it was just his stubborn personality writing those words. They represent the same reason why I can't change the color here to anything other than black.
It is true that life goes on, that people persevere, that things change and that happiness reawakens at some point to most people after coping with death. But it is also true and possible that the pain of grief lives on simultaneously.
The pain that I feel when I think of what happened to Joe still cuts as deep as the day it happened. The feelings I feel when I think of him are as torturous and uncontrolling as they ever were. Nothing has changed in that respect. What has changed is that my life now is not constantly overshadowed by those feelings. I can do things for consecutive hours and not feel the pain. That is an achievement that was once measured in minutes, and has has yet to be measured in days.
The grief is still there, painfully accessible in that it is always only a thought's distance away. Grief is part of me, but I don't live there anymore.
The color of this blog may always be black. That's ok. What happened to Joe will never cease to be a tragedy. I may never be able to wrap my husbands life up in a package of life lessons, the pain is too close to me. Yet I am thankful that others can learn from his life and live more fully because of him.
I don't think I will ever get over the death of this beautiful man and my beautiful life with him. Grief may always be a piece of my life for the rest of my days.
But I don't live there anymore.