This week has been hard. Lately the only place where the fact that all of last year actually happened sinks in is at work. How strange is that? It used to be that work was my safe heaven, the place where I could get away from the misery of my life, be normal, do normal. Now, 15 months later, it has flipped flopped. I’m usually okay outside of work, but as soon as I get in the car to drive there, click goes my mind and I start thinking about Brandon and everything else that pertains to that. Usually by the time I’m actually in a parking spot at work I’m already exhausted and teary eyed. Throughout the day, I keep thinking and thinking, and I keep getting sadder and sadder. In the past few weeks, I can remember three times now where I went to the bathroom, closed the stall, and let the tears come. Today was one of those days. All day I’ve had a cloud of heavy sadness weighing over me. I cried in the bathroom. Again.
Tonight I came home, fed the cats. While sitting on the floor by them, making sure Tybalt doesn’t steal the other’s food, bam. I start bawling. The only thing I can think of to explain this sudden dark cloud is that maybe I’m thawing out from the state of shock I’ve been in. I mean, how could I not be in shock for a year? I found Brandon, I heard his last breath, I saw the blood, I saw them wheel him out in a black body bag. Maybe it is completely normal to just now be coming out of a state of bewilderment, confusion, and numbness. It’s starting to sink in, really sink in, that he’s dead. I’ll never see him again, never talk to him. I’ll never be able to touch him again, and the last time I ever touched him will always be the night he was dead and the police officer made me go outside. The life that we were supposed to have is really never happening. Ever. I really am a widow. At 24. With only 5 weeks of marriage under my belt. That shouldn’t even freaking count. 5 weeks? Really? That’s all I get?
Sometimes I get so angry. Like now. I’m angry. Just thinking about the unfairness of all of this makes me so angry I find it hard to breathe. Why the hell did he get stupid drunk and think it was a great idea to go into the gun cabinet, get one, and shoot himself with it? What was so damn terrible? Why didn’t he talk to me about it…ever? Why was he always so closed off, even with me? Why didn’t I tell him I loved him more? Would that have made a difference? How long will I go on with life, always looking over my shoulder, waiting for someone I love to leave me, whether by death or by choice? My first therapist told me once that I would have abandonment issues, and I didn’t believe her. Joke is on me. She was right. I’m so insecure now. About everything. It makes me sick.
It doesn’t help anything that this week Aunt Flow came to visit (which equals extra hormonal!) and that work has been extremely busy and stressful. Today was busy all day long. An hour before going home, CCU called a massive transfusion code on a patient. So it was nonstop go, go, go, go from there. When I finally left work, the sky opened up and started pouring (keep in mind, it hasn’t rained ALL day) and I got soaked walking to the car. So, over all, today has been fantastic.
Will had a great accomplishment at work today, so he’s out celebrating with friends. He asked me to come after work, but after today, I’m exhausted, weepy, and just generally not social. I’m upset because he’s not home, and with his friends. I realize how exactly stupid that sounds as I type it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s what I’m feeling. The irrational part of my brain thinks that he’d rather spend time with them than with me. See? I told you. Major insecurities. My rational mind knows that it’s not true at all, that he’s just happy to have finished this part of training and is celebrating with his friends, and he wants me there. I KNOW that. I know that thinking anything else is simply irrational. But it’s there.
So now I’m reminded of how in the beginning of our relationship, Brandon would always choose his friends over me, and how upset it used to make me. And I know, in my rational mind, that A has nothing to do with B, so I’m just going to leave these thoughts here, where no one else will see them. I know I’m being irrational. I recognize that. But these new insecurities Brandon’s death has left me with are still there, so here I am, thinking irrational things, getting upset about them. And I know that if I wasn’t on my period and a tad extra hormonal right now, this wouldn’t have phased me.
Grief is something society doesn’t particularly like to talk about. Ever. We see someone who is grieving, say the appropriate Hallmark blip, pat them on the shoulder, maybe hug them, really and truly feel sorry for them, but in the end, we move on and get on with our lives. When we run into that unfortunate person, we avoid the topic of their grief like the plague, because really, it makes us feel uncomfortable and we have no idea what to say anyway. The general consensus seems to be this: as time passes, the grief gets easier. It’s as if you put X amount of days/months/years between “the bad thing” and the person affected by it, surely, the grief will get easier. I can almost see people looking at me and thinking, “Well, it’s been ____ long, she seems to be really doing better. I mean, she’s out and about, going through life. I bet she’ll be even better in another few months!” I mean, the person should be used to it by then, right?
So far in my 15 months of experience with grief, a new close friend of mine, I will say this: the assumption that “it gets better with time” is bullshit. Utter bullshit. No, time doesn’t make it easier. If anything, it gets worse with time.
In my experience, I spent the first year in shock. So to the outside world, yes, I looked okay. I was getting out of bed, going to work, cracking a joke here and there, and socializing. That is what people saw. What they didn’t see is that for the first year I could barely remember what Brandon looked like. I couldn’t remember much of anything about our life together, that the 5 years I spent with him all suddenly seemed like a dream I once had. I didn’t feel much, at all. I was functioning purely on survival mode.
So yes, I guess I should be all better now, 15 months later, right? Ha. I think that now, 15 months later, I’m realizing for the first time, the very first time, the vastness of my loss. Now, 15 months later, I’m starting to get vivid memories back of the life I had with Brandon and they hurt. They punch me in the stomach and knock the breath out of my lungs. They make me cry. These memories and flashes make me feel so helpless, so alone. For the first time since the day he died, I’m realizing the magnitude of losing him, of that life we had, of that life we were supposed to have.
I think that’s exactly why I’m having such a hard time at work now. Slowly but surely, the grief I was too numb and in shock to feel is creeping in, slithering through the cracks. And it terrifies me. In the past 2 weeks I’ve already cried a handful of times, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.