Saturday, June 5, 2010
Aftermath - Part One
These are difficult times. Lynne died three months ago. It seems like yesterday, and then again it doesn't.
The reality of her absence has finally settled in among us, and right now we are three guys struggling with sorrow, grief, and plain old missing her. The suddenness of her death was so surprising we have been slow to grasp its reality. Lynne was not only wife and mother, she was the only female in the house. I can't quite tell you how, but the dynamic here has changed.
We are all grieving differently, and there is plenty to go around. It's like everyone is riding a roller coaster, except we're not on the same ride. My sons and I are hitting peaks and valleys at different times.
I want to respect the privacy of my sons, so I won't put their thoughts and feelings on public display. But I can tell you that watching them hurt is so painful for me. Most of the time they don't have to say anything: the shock, occasional anger, and distress is written on their faces.
I am managing them and myself, and sometimes it's tough keeping things together.
A big trigger for me has been going through all of Lynne's stuff. It is bittersweet, and very real. Some friends are helping organize and sell her clothing. It has been taken out of our closet and moved onto racks out in the garage to be inventoried and sold. Seeing a familiar piece of clothing sitting on a rack evokes emotions I really can't describe. (I am also impressed that she fit six racks of clothing in a relatively small space!)
And let me tell you, walking into a closet that is mostly empty drives home the fact of her death like nothing else.
A really hard thing for me was taking her robes and gowns off the stand in the bathroom. These are items that she wore for years, and are so familiar to me. They weren't fit for sale, and weren't the sort of thing you keep for a memory. They were an everyday part of our life together. I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, so I just left them on the floor of the closet for days until I could muster the ability to dispose of them. Doing it had such a feeling of finality to it, like "yes, she really is gone, I am having to say goodbye in a very different but very concrete way, this is bad."
Before we did any of this I let my in-laws come up and go through Lynne's belongings for keepsakes and things they could use. The first time we didn't get very far, because we kept lingering over individual items and sharing memories. We also had to decide what to let go, and what to keep for my sons and the families they will some day have. I came in late the second time they were here and they had several sackfuls of stuff. I couldn't even tell that they had made a dent in the closet.
I am also finding items I hadn't thought about in years, and they bring memories of the great times we had together and as a family. I posted a photo of Lynne early in our marriage, and another from a day at the creek while I was still in school, and before we married.
Talking about Lynne in the past tense is strange too. I still automatically call her my wife, but am slowly switching to "my late wife." I am now a "widower." How odd this is.
How do we deal with the unexpected death of a loved one? We're finding out, so stay tuned.