For some reason, the pair of sculptures I saw at the Denver Art Center seem appropriate for this rumination. They remind me of Wife and me.
Three years ago, Wife died. What more can be said about such a watershed event? What can I do to honor her memory than to remember her most days and then set aside a few minutes on her big days to reflect on her life and our shared lives?
I’ll tell you what I can do — I can live. I’m not going to be that other man in the grief group (I went a couple of times and then quit) who was stuck in his loss. He could not get traction to process his grief, to live it, to let it permeate his soul with the shearing pain of that loss, and then to release that energy as his wife would want.
I watched him. I felt his pain, not just my own. I shielded myself from his pain as it was too much to take on the pain of another man’s loss when so close to my own. I thought “He needs help he cannot get here,” as I walked away from that first group session. I thought “He has to get his feet under him, do the work, process his grief, and honor his wife’s memory if he’s going to move forward.”
Then I reflected on my own internal journey, my own internal work. I was much farther down the path of my grief than the other man. No, it was not a race and there is no winner; there is no better man when dealing with this life-changing event. There is just the grief and the work. There is a necessity to do this work or that pain will kill the spirit.
I returned once more to see if the grief group held anything for me. I learned that I was already far down the process of my grief and decided that spending time with my few friends (those that hung with me) would be far better for me than spending witm with the other grievers. So, that’s what I did.
My gut told me to run away… to just get on the bike or in the 4Runner and go walkabout for a while. My aching spirit wanted the outdoors, the open road, and time away from shared places to process what happened. I wanted to be the Ghost Rider (see Neil Peart’s book) and let the clean air and open road purge some of the pain from me.
But, I didn’t. I did the responsible thing and kept after my obligations. I continued my inner work and did what I could for my employer.
That all changed last March. I was released from my engagement. So, I sold the house, rid myself of a bunch of things (still have too much), put the remaining things in storage, and left. One thing I learned is that my gut was right — I should spend time outdoors and on the road. These are healing places for me and I made up for my original decision these last few months by spending time with loved ones here and there across the country.
And, this is how I honor Wife. I spend time with loved ones and on the road.
I sense, though, that this time is ending. My walkabout is coming to a close, or at the very least is going to change. What that will be is not yet clear. It will be, though, when the time is right. My direction is to remain in the moment, for that is all we ever have. I will remember Wife on all our special days, and most others. I’ll review the images of us together, doing things that we enjoyed, our family pictures, and just remembering. I will continue to honor Wife this way. It feels right. It also feels right to leave the pain behind (mostly) and celebrate the happy times we loved.
I dream of her often. I remember her often. I miss her all the time.