I have attempted to chronicle each step in this journey of grief and healing. Each time I do, the openness of sharing it has been, I am told, of service to others. Each time, others have found it helpful. I have done my best to live openly, and lose openly, to the fullness of my ability and knowledge.
I wrote this about a week ago.
I posted it that night.
At least I thought I had posted it. I have never had trouble posting to my blog before, but this ended up, each time, in the Drafts folder. I asked my editor, who has access to my blog, for help.
He read it. He said he was glad it seemed stuck as a draft. He was afraid that giving this voice might make it become so.
I erased it.
I have learned, through years of teaching and using narrative therapy, that the best way to move an emotional state out is to bring it out as fully as possible. Putting it into words, as fully, as accurately, with as much detail, emotion, and directness as possible, is one of the best ways to do that. It also means it is then outside, not being repeated in one’s head, all day, all night, on and on.
My editor showed it to my psychologist. Dr. Sarah Arnett. She explained to him that writing about it or talking about it, was far from dangerous: not talking about it was the danger. And, as scary as it is, people who feel this way must be allowed to talk about it. Not told it is wrong. Not given trite reasons to go on or have clichés foisted upon them, not told they have so much to live for, not told there are people who would miss them. They know this. But none of that helps. They need to give voice to the sorrow, or the anger, so it can come out.
My friend Joyce, she got it. She and I laughed one evening over the ways we’d end it. How we could do it without it looking like we had any real part in it. It was good to know someone understood.
So here it is. After checking with the kids, letting them know it was OK, here it is.
Maybe reading this, more people will know it is OK to listen, without fear, to a friend or loved one who feels this way. It is not a plan. It is a feeling. It is loss and longing and anger and sorrow looking for cessation, surcease, palliation. It is not life that wants the end, but the pain.
Maybe reading this, more people who feel this way will know it is OK to say it, to write it, instead of letting it grow inside, instead of letting it eat one up, take over. Instead of doing it.
The moon doesn’t change as I walk. It doesn’t move. Not perceptibly. The wind pushes steadily in the direction of the incoming waves so that I must push back to keep myself at the shoreline. A little struggle, a bit of resistance, friction, is good, if it is tangible. If it is clear.
I know, over time, the moon will rise. I can watch it as much as I like, but I’ll never perceive the movement. Yet, over time, move it will, higher and higher, then set again, and be gone.
Over the last two years, if I look back, I can see where I’ve been, what has changed. The pace is, perhaps, glacial. But I think, at last, it, too, is setting. I don’t want to watch it anymore.
I have a good life. A wonderful life. I have been the luckiest of men. I have, in the real sense of what one needs, wanted for nothing. I want for nothing now. I am surrounded by goodness and love. A splendid family, children anyone would be proud off, friends anyone would be blessed with. I was married for nearly thirty years to the most wonderful of women. There is nothing wrong. But I don’t want it.
I don’t want to linger anymore. I don’t want to just wait for the day I can see her again, or discover there is nothing to see, but rest, and darkness and nothingness. I can wait around, and just be. But there seems little reason. No motivation.
I know my friends, my family will differ with this, but the last year and a half has proven life goes on, that things happen, and we continue. I’m just choosing that I don’t wish too. My kids are off and fine and my wife is gone. So, no need.
I promised her I’d go and be happy. It may be the only promise to her I didn’t keep. I’m trying to. Leaving feels more like keeping it than the intangible struggle of the day to day. The struggle to be, to find reasons to wake up.
I don’t want to hear about the little pleasures. I know about them. Flowers. Hugs, sunrises. But the last few nights, I have had dreams: sitting and talking with my Lee. All night, just talking, like the best friends we are. And that is all I can want.
I promised her, as well, I’d not join a monastery. That I’d not become a Buddhist monk. I’ll keep that promise. I promised I’d not allow myself to spend my life alone. But I am a shy creature, and do not venture out by myself, do not mingle, meet, join, talk to people I don’t know. I don’t party or partake or parlay or participate in things social. So I am left with a second promise it appears I cannot keep.
Being alone is not a problem. Lack of contact, feeling isolated—that is. I can feel it. And to not feel it, I have to deny it.
I don’t want to deaden anything with alcohol, or take pills. I don’t want to not feel. But it seems most feelings are disappearing on their own. And I am left with…what? A sad nostalgia of belonging to a place and person not here. A feeling for which English has no word.
I’m going day by day. Making plans for the very near future only. Living today for what I need to do today. Tomorrow will be for today. The next day will be for today. Only today. Give me a task, I’ll do it. Why not? For now.
Real plans I have none. No goals. Nothing to aspire to. And I have no real plans to end anything, but each night, I wonder, how do I not wake when the sun rises? How can my sleep be one from which I do not wake? How can my dream go on and on?
Suicide is not illegal. Only doing something to oneself that is obviously designed to lead to termination in the very short term. One may not poison oneself with a vial but one may with chemicals, knowing that time is all it takes. One may not do without food or water, but one may choose things which will hasten one’s end. One may not leap but one may walk too close. And one may slip.
I am taking excellent care of myself. I may be in the best shape of my life. And getting better. My life is simple. I do nothing that may immediately lead to my leaving. I do nothing that anyone can look at, can point to, can identify as a cause, of it being my fault. So I exercise, eat well, rest. But neither do I do anything to prolong my stay. I no longer put on my seat belt. I am careless. I pay little attention. Most of the time, I am just thinking, how much more sweet to sleep.
I have no plan. Just opportunity.
I grew tired of people saying things were God’s will, that it was time, that there is a plan. Fine, I say, then. If something happens, it happens. It was a plan. Whatever happens, if I was supposed to take some strange comfort in there having been a plan for my wife’s hideous, painful death, then those who believe such can feel the same way about whatever happens next as well.
I don’t want anyone to suffer. And I was told, over and over, not to care so much about others that I let myself suffer as a result. OK. Now I’m listening.
I was told I wasn’t needed by others as much as I thought. That I could live my life for myself, for my own desires. I said don’t try to convince me of that. I said it would be a bad day if ever I believed that. Now, I believe it.
I’m tired of it. I just want it to end. The day-to-day drudge of just waiting until I see her again. I used to feel that tomorrow would be fine, or next week, next year, or forty years. It didn’t matter. But now it does. I wasn’t meant to do this by myself and I want out.
I have cancelled my appointments. I don’t need them. No doctors. No psychologist. Let the appointments be for someone for whom they will be of some use. Someone who wants to stay.
I asked my daughter once, after she tried to take her own life, to promise she would not hurt herself. She said she could not make that kind of promise. I understood. I never asked again. My psychologist asked me to promise I would not hurt myself. I could not make that promise.
Sometime, soon, I can hope, emotion and opportunity will come together, for a moment.
Tomorrow I will go for a walk. Next week, I have a call to make, and a book I might put together. That is the extent of my life’s plans.
The moon tonight is full. I can look at it all night, and it will never seem to change. It will be like that, forever. Or so it seems. And that is enough.