“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
Our first Christmas without B is approaching. The wound is so fresh that it’s surreal. Sometimes magical thinking lingers and it seems as if those three weeks of hospitals, tests, doctors and suffering didn’t really happen. Or at least that they didn’t end with us living in a world without him. Sometimes I awake from dreaming about him, ready to call him and tell him about it only to realize I can’t. It’s only a millisecond but it’s there, the moment where I don’t remember that it’s too late to tell him all the things I desperately want to.
Today some of us will get together for the first time without him. He’ll most definitely be there in spirit because if it weren’t for him this get together probably wouldn’t be happening. We haven’t gathered the family for Christmas in a long time- we all got so busy with our kids and our lives that after we lost Grandma the tradition dwindled until it was gone too.
I am so looking forward to getting together this evening for a celebration instead of a loss (which is sadly when the family usually comes together). However, I had a lot of guilt and sadness to go with my excitement and anticipation. I wondered if we’d be doing this if B hadn’t gotten sick (probably not). And then I wondered if the rest of us were benefiting from his illness and death. I know this isn’t rational. I can logically see that we all have to move on and try to learn something from this tragedy. But it doesn’t change the emotional baggage that triggers the illogical reactions. Understanding something is not the same as feeling it.
What I am slowly accepting, as I said in a previous post, is that grief doesn’t have to negate the joy we feel. Conventional wisdom tells us that they are mutually exclusive but this is simply false. Grief and joy co-mingle and can, perhaps, even compliment each other. I don’t think you have to know deep sorrow to feel deep joy (and those inspirational quotes suggesting this drive me crazy) but I do think deep sorrow can remind us of the importance of creating joy for ourselves. I don’t think we had to lose B for me to remember this essential truth; but just because a particular catalyst wasn’t necessarily the only thing that could have propelled us forward that doesn’t mean it can’t still be the thing to do it. So, I had to come to terms with the idea that we aren’t benefiting because B got sick. We are simply choosing his passing as a way to move forward instead of inward. We are learning to dance with a limp.