It's a compassionate, heartfelt question. Nearly every day someone asks, "How are you doing?" They care. I know this. But, I don't give them the answer that is hidden inside my broken heart. I tell them I'm taking things a day at a time, there are ups and downs, good days and bad. I appreciate the concern and love I've been shown in the seven months since Jim died. (It's still almost too painful to write those words). The reality is that I feel so much..... The feelings ebb and flow, they attack through a song, a memory, a smell....always unexpected, like a genii popping up out of a bottle, and just as difficult to push back in.
I feel overwhelmed with sadness, a grief....dark and bleak......I feel broken.
I feel alone, most people have moved on and continue to live as they did before.....not much changed for them when Jim died. Sure, they miss him, and talk about him, and continue to share memories about him....but they are not broken by his death. Their sadness faded. I don't blame them at all, as I have been in that place too. A friend dies, I make a casserole, sign a card, attend a memorial....then go home for pizza and a movie. If it's a comedy, I can even laugh. That has all changed now. I feel the pain of others who experience a loss, I mark the time with them..... Week one, numb, go through all the photo albums again and again. Month one, insomnia, fear, anger. Take care of all the details. Month two, try to clean a little, maybe remove some clothes and shoes.....or stand in the closet with shirts pressed against your face to smell his aftershave again. From here on, it's looking for a new normal....who am I without him? How do I do the things we did together, alone. I am a better friend to my grieving friends now
"Moving on" generates the most anguish. Making memories without him feels empty and wrong. Laughing or having a good time without him produces guilt. I am trying, but the effort is hollow, for I am but a shell of who I was with him. I get tearful watching a couple swing dance the way we did, knowing I will not dance again. I see a shirt or book I know he would like, and miss buying it for him.
As time passes, I miss him all the more. I want to share events, thoughts, trivial conversations, jokes, card games. and especially laughter. Oh, how we could laugh together. I want to hold back time, I resist change, I clutch the pain to my being because somehow it keeps him close. Each day takes me farther away from him.
There are times of joy. I can look at photos once again and smile through the tears. Memories are becoming a comfort, rather that a sword through my heart. I have a deep, abiding faith and know that we will be together again for Eternity. Jim prayed that little prayer for Salvation, and I saw the change in him as a result. He was still the same old Brando, but with a kinder, gentler, giving heart. He was assured
How am I doing? It's day to day..... I am here. My thoughts are with him, my tears always close to the surface. This is me, now, without Jim. I walk and I talk, and I experience every emotion there is to experience... I will do this until the end, and only then will I be whole, again.