Losing my husband
On February 12th 2010, my husband passed away and three years later while standing at the cemetery many thoughts crowded my mind as I stared down at his tombstone.
I remembered how shocked I’d been when he’d told me that many of his possessions had taken to hiding in mischievous places, and then I thought back to the time we’d visited Prague. We spent carefree days walking through that interesting city, holding hands and absorbing its various sights and sounds. One particular day, I felt tired, so sat down on a bench in one of the busy tourist squares while my husband decided to walk for a bit longer. He said that he would be back in half an hour. But he did not return. Much, much later, he arrived in a police van. I was in the exact spot where he’d left me which was now deserted, and watched a policeman escort my husband out of the police car and walk toward me. He asked whether I recognized the man with him. “Yes, that’s my husband,” I cried. “But how on earth did you find me ? He explained that they had driven to every square in the tourist area of Prague. I felt so relieved that I almost kissed him. My husband seemed embarrassed but showed no other sign of agitation. However, he was unable to explain what had happened. We returned to our hotel and from that moment on, I did not let him out of my sight. The following morning he was surprised when I accompanied him on his early morning walk, obviously having no recollection of the previous day’s ‘adventure.’
On our return home, we visited a geriatric neurologist and the diagnosis of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, slowly crept into the picture.
His sudden death was hard to grasp. Although he suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease he was still able to go walking if he kept to his regular route. Of course he wore a Medical Alert bracelet with all the information I could squeeze onto it. Maybe because he was an Accountant by profession, he was still good with numbers and was able to play bridge even though he forgot so much else. He actually played his last game of bridge the day before he passed away.
The day he died, he went for his regular morning walk and did not return. A policewoman came to my door to tell me that he was in the hospital and that I should go immediately. He’d suffered a massive stroke and when he was discovered lying on the grass in the park by some joggers, they called for an ambulance.
Because of the suddenness and the shock of his death, my feelings were magnified. The unimaginable had happened. There was this immediate destruction of the world as I knew it. The person I loved and who provided me with security, was gone without warning. It was both a physical and an emotional shock. Helplessness and vulnerability, fear of the future wtihout him, of the loneliness and the sudden emptiness that awaited me was unbearable and I had difficulty sleeping. I felt as if I were drowning. We had been married for 51 years and known one another for 54. And the worst part was that I was unable to undo this loss. I took two steps forward and then one backward. One day I was married and the next, single, alone and grieving.
Keeping busy was my best therapy. I dug in the garden and wrote furiously. I doubt whether there is an expiration date for grief. It comes and goes in waves. It’s an emotional handicap that I get up with every morning and live with all day; and then, take it to bed with me. I’d lost the daily companionship of my loving husband and best friend. The loneliness is worst as evening falls and on special days of course. I also had the extra burden of being there for my children and grandchildren while struggling with my own grief. As it turned out, we supported one another.
After losing so many near ones and dear ones, I began putting down some of my thoughts, and this is what I came up with.
When the sun sets, I remember them,
When the wind blows, I remember them.
When the spring comes, I remember them.
When I am tired, I remember them.
When I am sick at heart, I rememer them.
When things go well, I remember them.
And then I realize that the only cure for grief is to grieve; to grieve for as long as is necessary.