Grief is unknowable.
We lack the right words to describe this feeling. We try with “sad” or “overwhelming” or all sorts of metaphors, but this feeling, of love lost and yet still alive, is so beyond the realm of words. I bet there’s a good word for it in German or Swedish. It’s something like liebeschmerzen. Which literally means love-pain. I know a tiny bit of German because my husband was enamored with his German ancestry.
I am incomplete. Maybe that describes it.
I don’t forget Andy is gone, but the feeling fades and then reemerges.
The idea of recovery, of moving on, is a farce. And even if it were possible, I don’t know if I would want to move on, to recover from the greatest love of my life. Do you see how absurd that is? The idea of recovering from love? It’s just not possible, nor is it wanted. I don’t want to “recover” from Andy like one would a cold or an addiction. I want him to be fully embedded in me. I want to never forget him.
I want him back is what I want.
We’re experiencing an unprecedented time right now. Our city, the city I grew to love because of him, is being told to stay home, keep your distance. Our love grew from our work in theatre, which is an industry that requires a lot of people and a lot of close proximity. I don’t know how to exist in this city when I’m being told to stay away. It’s painful. It’s a new kind of grief to not experience his hometown, which served as a cocoon for me, while everything is so scary. I have to keep me and my son isolated from all the things we love that remind us of Papa.
Well, not everything. I’m breaking some rules by still having limited contact with a few people: His sister and her family, who I helped move earlier this week, friends I met because the husband and Andy were co-workers and are now among my favorite people on the planet, my son’s godparents who were chosen because of their level of love for our son and the similarities between them and me and Andy. I’m still seeing all of these people who remind me of him. Because everything in this city I get because of him. Everything I love, my son, my house, my job, it’s all because of him.
So there will never be recovery, moving on, feeling better. There is only moments of not feeling terrible. Don’t ask me how I’m doing. The answer is rote, unfeeling, and untrue. I’ll always tell you I’m “hanging in there” because that’s the only option right now. But it’s a form answer. Almost as form as “Fine,” but with more details so you leave me alone.
I’d rather answer “How has it been lately?” or the real question you want to ask “How on earth could I survive what you are dealing with? Can you give me a hint that it’s survivable? Could I do what you’re doing? Could I do it and not collapse in on myself? You haven’t collapsed, is that a sign that you can live without your person?”
I am not living without my person. I am not surviving. What I am doing is making anew. Which sounds romantic and poetic and really it’s just the fucking truth. I have the beautiful human, my son, my tiny Andy, who needs my care and love every day. I can’t collapse in on myself because he would be left alone. And the grief of that, that is on par with the grief of losing Andy.
I do what I do for him. For Ronan. I haven’t yet started doing it for me. For now I sleep and eat and work and go to therapy so I can be a loving mother to my beautiful son who did nothing to deserve this and will never know his Papa the way I did. Maybe this will shift. I hope it does so life doesn’t feel so fucking meaningless sometimes.
No guarantees you’ll survive this. It remains to be seen if even I’m surviving this. For now I am building anew and I don’t have a plan beyond “stay alive so you can raise this tiny human to be beautiful.”