It’s been nearly 16 months since my wife of 26 years passed away. I’ve learned a lot about myself since then. Even learned a lot about us.
In those first awful weeks without her, I remember the physical pain I felt. It was a constant ache, ever present, and not just a mental longing, an emotional emptiness. I hurt. Always.
I’ve gotten past that in the ensuing months, but perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that losing a spouse you love deeply is unlike any other loss. I’ve lost my parents, a sibling, friends – none of that compares to losing my wife. With other losses, there is grief to be sure. But there is also a sense that life goes on. People die, it’s inevitable. You grieve, in some instances you divide up the estate, take hold of treasured memories that may be no more than a trivet you remember from your childhood. But your life goes on, as it must, and you understand that this sort of loss is a necessary part of living.
With Jill it was completely different. It is different to this day. When I lost her, I realized for the first time in my life that “the two shall become one” is not merely a metaphorical bit of poetry, something that sounds romantic but cannot physically be true.
Well, actually it is true. I realized a year ago the pain I felt – the actual, physical pain – was present because I had lost an important part of myself. Every change I’ve made to the house since then, every new decoration, every removal of a decoration, was a reminder that I had lost a key part of who I am. This house daily become less “our” house and more “my” house, and each day I feel the pain again.
The physical pain, no. I have moved on from that, and the ache that I felt – not just in my heart, but in my body – isn’t there anymore. But I still feel like an important part of me is gone. I feel handicapped, as though I’ve lost an eye or an arm. There are things I can no longer do because she is no longer here. There are things I should have done while she was with me but now can never complete because her being with me is no longer an option.
What God has joined, let no man tear apart. But remember that when God tears it apart, it still hurts badly, and the loss is not something one ever really gets beyond, I suspect.