One year ago today, my wife of almost 41 years died. This awful, painful anniversary is immeasurably sad. Even a year later, I cannot quite believe she is gone. I still have too many things to say to her, too many expressions of deep love and appreciation, for her to be gone. But she is. Yet I still cannot comprehend it. I cannot accept that the woman who literally made me who I am and saved me from myself so many times is actually gone.
My grief is incredibly selfish. Yet I feel her pain, too. I remain bitter about what she experienced during her final five months of life. But I know I cannot change history. I cannot justify being forever angry at the universe for her loss. But it’s still so very, very hard.
In the days and weeks after her death, I felt the love of friends and family surround me, even in the midst of COVID isolation and the fear of the pandemic. Without that, I doubt I could have convinced myself life was worth the pain it inflicted on me.
My wife devoted the majority of her lifetime to me and to us. I miss her more than I can possibly express. Eventually, I’m told, the pain will subside some. Eventually, the bitterness I feel toward the rehabilitation hospitals/centers will diminish. I hope so. I want only the pleasant memories of the good times to remain in my head. I know I’ll miss Janine forever and I’ll love her at least that long.
In spite of the grief, the joy of the memories of our time together sustains me. Often, I recall something that triggers both immense pain and immense joy. The pain is a selfish response to her loss. The joy is an acknowledgement of my extraordinary good fortune for having been the beneficiary of Janine’s presence and love in my life.
Today, even in the face of my ever-present grief, Colleen brings joy to my life. My great good fortune continues, and I think Janine would have wished this good fortune for me. That’s the kind of person she was. Behind her deeply personal and private façade, she was openly kind and compassionate beyond measure. I saw that every day I spent with her.
Janine’s sister and I will spend some time together today in a joint remembrance of Janine’s life and how it shaped ours. Afterward, in grateful appreciation, I will continue to contemplate the great good fortune of having my IC to sustain me in this next phase of my life. I hope I am worthy of my good fortune. I hope my history and my future prove I delivered good fortune as well as received it.
Grief and joy seem so utter opposites, but they can occupy the same space. Today is an immeasurably sad moment, yet it acknowledges a treasured history. And that history is leading the way to the potential for an equally happy future.
For everything there is a season…
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~