The Widow Embraces The Pain

A Familiar Place, an Unfamiliar State of Mind

One year ago today, I woke up in Aaron’s childhood home. October 14th was my first birthday as a widowed mother-of-3, and the last birthday I’d “spend” with Aaron.  Luna and I boarded a flight to Pittsburgh the day before, and were staying through the weekend. Since I was pregnant and couldn’t travel immediately after Aaron died, we hadn’t held the Celebration of Life in PA. With Luna cleared by the pediatrician, and the go-ahead from my doctor, we boarded a flight 2 months in the making. With tired eyes and a racing mind, I prepared myself for the beautiful and agonizing day I had waiting for me.

Searching for Faces and Hope

His celebration took place on a gorgeous day in Western Pennsylvania. I felt overwhelmed emotionally, constantly, but held it together. Seeing our faces together, smiling and laughing, was heart-wrenching and warming. In some moments, all I could feel was the intensity of the love we had for each other. In the next, all I could feel, think about, or see was 2 smiles that would never be photographed together, and two laughs that would never be heard together again.  It was surreal, seeing my husbands face on poster boards all around me, but never next to me. The whole time, it felt like I was waiting for him to show up, and the smallest part of me hoped he did. Even though it wasn’t possible, hope was all I had some days.

We met his extended family members, and I spoke with friends and colleagues, some he’s known for 20 years. Funny memories and laughter filled a few conversations, and tears fell with others.”It’s great to meet you and Luna – just wish the circumstances were different” was an agonizing acknowledgment between myself and everyone there. 

I put on my brave face, and kept it up even when time after time, I noticed the sorrow in the eyes of people who held my daughter. It was a hard day. That night, we built a giant bonfire in the yard, and drank to celebrate (and supplement). Aaron would have felt right at home. For the first time since he died, I felt at home. 

The Storms Have Rolled In

This year, it’s different – the atmosphere, the weather, the placement of my ring and the size of Luna. Last year, Luna and I were distracted – busy meeting his family, and hearing stories from his friends. I was sleeping in the house Aaron grew up in. As I walked around outside, I was stepping in the same places his feet had once been. His name, his voice, his character – everything about him was still alive and buzzing around me. Reluctantly, I made plans to go Stargazing last night. It’s an environment, and state of mind, where I can comfortably admire and examine the magnitude of the universe and my loss simultaneously. As storms began roll in, the event was cancelled – and I went home. 

I believe after the first time I felt that feeling of helplessness, and lack of control, will always affect me profoundly. Without warning everything I had been avoiding thinking of, or neglecting to talk about, came to the surface.  My storms had arrived, and the dark clouds that followed me around had finally reached capacity. Neither they, nor I, could hold it’s weight anymore.  I cried, replaying the moment I choked back tears as I asked the County employee for Luna’s birth certificate, and Aaron’s death certificate. I wept like I should have a year ago, when I saw Aaron’s ashes in the diaper bag during our flight to bring him home. I mourned as I realized I had become the narrator to my own story – the pain of revisiting the events that unfolded in front of me was too daunting.

Embracing the Narrative I Represent

I had subconsciously, and without ever realizing it, become the narrator of my life. My inability to talk about any piece of our story slowly changed when I realized by removing my ‘self’ from the conversation, nothing was off limits. I was my own patient, and started dissecting and explaining how I felt and why I felt that way. Without realizing it, I had disassociated and depersonalized slowly in those first few weeks as a last resort to healing. Even though I’ve had more difficulty talking about his death recently, I don’t mind feeling my heart tugging on my tear-ducts some mornings. My inner voice, pleading for acceptance, is the voice that bothered me. Instead of acceptance, I’ve chosen to embrace it – this is my pain. This beautiful horror show I wake up to every morning, has somehow turned out quite nicely.

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