I cannot remember your laugh!
I never thought it would happen, but 8 years after you went to heaven I cannot remember what your laugh sounds like. I cannot remember other things about you but nothing bothers me as much as not remembering the sound of your joyful silliness – one of my favorite things about you.
I can still remember so many details of our life together and I treasure those memories. I guess when you died I really lost my mind – not in the ways one normally thinks but so many parts went missing. I stopped keeping a calendar and became much more disorganized. I stopped hearing music. I could not concentrate to read a book. My memory felt like I was suffering from “chemo brain” or a trauma induced dementia. Routines faded and self care stopped completely. My mind and life just sort of stopped functioning. It was easier to ignore the weirdness of grief because I was so focused on helping our kids find their way through the fog. But now that I cannot remember your laugh, I think that my mental circuits misfired to make sense of something that can never make sense.
Grief is so consumptive and has impacted every part of my life: social, mental, physical, emotional. Since you taught me that spiritual is our whole being, I won’t include that as a separate category. Any way you look at it, grief has overtaken all of my life Not in a bad way, it just has.
I am realizing now that much of my grief has been intellectual. I have read lots of books and articles. I have contemplated the ups and downs and the “stages” or directions of how to move through grief and “get over it”. And yet that is not how grief works! In my studies I have learned that grief is stressful and varied, that there is no right way to grieve. And it is a process that takes time.
Grief has also been personal and has become my relational companion. It has been said that time heals wounds. I never really believed that before but memories do fade over time. Some of my grief has also been an emotional roller coaster. In grief terms, your death is what short-circuited my life as it separated me from my sense of self or identity, my competence and any concept of the future. As time has passed, the initial crowding and suffocating reaction of grief has settled down and found a place in my life. Since attachment gives life security and meaning, when whatever is attached is severed by death, (in this case = YOU), grief is the response. CS Lewis says in A Grief Observed, bereavement is an essential part of love. It is one of the phases that integrates loss into reality.
I also am convinced, more than ever, that grief created a problem of narrative for me. A story needs a narrator with a point of view, a perspective on the world as they experience it. I had a hard time narrating the story moving forward because I became unsure of who I am without you. For one thing, I never was single as an adult so has been difficult imagining a new story, a new plot for myself apart from us. I miss us and I have learned that life is a multi-volume story. Of course, the sequel is never as good as the original!
Most of the time these days I am doing better at life without you. I don’t like it, but I have figured out my way forward. I still think of you every day. The kids and I try to keep you alive in our hearts. But losing the memory of you laughing is something I never imagined would happen. It makes me sad. More that that, it sort of increased my anxiety as I worry about forgetting even more. I never want to lose the memory of you, Jim.
I am grateful for all the years of laughter, of meaning and story that you created around you. Thank you for writing your love into my narrative and for the chapters we wrote together. Now 8 years of story have been written and you are still in it, but not as before. So, I cannot wait until that day when I get to hear your laugh again and until then I will keep straining to hear it again in my mind.
I love you forever. 143. 831 <+><