I’ve now lived my life for three years longer than him.
That’s 1,095 more days of banalities: spilled coffee, loads of laundry, trips to the grocery store.
And 1,095 more days of what makes life worth living: side splitting laughter, whispered I love yous, last calls at new bars in new cities.
Over these years and those days, my grief has changed. It’s no longer as focused on me — on my loss and my feelings.
Now it’s more about Bob: about what he lost, about the things he’s missed, about how fucking unfair it all is.
It makes me angry and sad and confused. It makes me want to scream at people who gripe about getting older, when they should be thankful for every second they have. It makes me grimace when anyone says “everything happens for a reason.” It makes me pull over and sob when I hear certain country songs.
The emotions are still in there, and they still erupt at times both expected and unexpected.
But on a day-to-day basis, I’m not struggling. For me, something has slowly superseded the daily ache; something not quite as pervasive, but still insidious.
Now that I’ve found myself and my life again, I also find myself afraid all the time.
Of losing again.
Of my world toppling down.
And unlike the grief, I don’t know when the fear will abate. If it will. Or if it’ll simply get worse.
I think about having kids. Then I think about how it would feel to lose them, and my chest clenches.
I think about my mom, my friends, my Tyler.
. . .
Chloe Benjamin writes in The Immortalists: “The impossibility of moving beyond loss, faced against the likelihood you will: it’s as absurd, as seemingly miraculous, as survival always is.”
Everyone told me to pursue the absurd and miraculous, to stay open, to love again, to keep on living for Bob. But they didn’t warn me that, if I did exactly what they said I should do, the future would get really scary really fast.
I think of all the people who have experienced loss, and of all the people who have managed to love again.
Despite knowing what it’s like to get burned, they go right back in. As so many things in life, that seems beautiful — and foolish.
Bob would probably say I was both of those things. He would probably also say I’ve never been afraid of a little heat.
So whenever I feel the fear creeping in, I try to remember a Garth Brooks song that Bob burned onto a CD for me when we were 17. When we were too young to really get what Garth was talking about.
“Life is not tried it is merely survived / If you’re standing outside the fire.”
I step back into the flames. I take a deep breath.
I’m afraid of getting burned, but I also can’t imagine being anywhere else.
I’m really glad you’re here — it’s a good reminder none of us are alone. Thank you for your time, comments, and support. If you’d like to stay in touch, please sign up for my newsletter here.