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Grief

I promised myself I wouldn’t write about this.  It feels exploitative,  and like a betrayal.  But this blog is about my life, and right now my life is stained in grief.

Last Tuesday, my ex-husband, the father of my daughters, passed away.  It was not unexpected, what with years of renal failure.  I have a whole lot of unpopular thoughts, feelings and beliefs about the timing of it all.  This may be my safe place, I still feel the need to keep all of those to myself to protect my daughters.  Or maybe it’s to avoid another huge, ugly, name calling fight online.

It’s been nine days.  Nine days of knowing he’s no longer here, and our family is shattered.  Everyone blaming each other, pointing fingers, saying ugly hurtful things because we ourselves are hurting so deeply.

Chris, and I were together for 9 years, married for 5 of those years, and have co-parented our daughters for 13.  I was his only wife, and our children his only children.  And yet, I’ve been made to feel as if I don’t have the right to mourn the loss of him.  I’ve been told that anything I post online about how much I’ll miss him, and how deeply sorry I am that he’s gone, is somehow making his death all about me.

But isn’t it partially about me?  Don’t I hold a special place because we were once married and share children?  Don’t I get to miss him in a way nobody else will?  His mother will grieve like a mother, and nobody else loved him like she did.  His father, his brother, his twin, his daughters, they ALL have a unique relationship to him, and will grieve and feel the loss like nobody else.  Why should I have to be any different?  I will feel his loss like nobody else will.  I will feel it profoundly when our daughters graduate college, and then get married, when grandchildren are born. All the future milestones our daughters will reach, I won’t be able to share any of that with him.   Who will I look at and congratulate on a job well done?  Who will share in all of this with me, as only parents can?

We have been divorced 13 years, and some people think those 13 years means my grief can be dismissed.  He was my friend, and he was my co-parent.  We couldn’t be married, but we still loved each other because we love our daughters.  We were friends.  I spent days sitting in the hospital with him.  I would often drop everything, and inconvenience Sam, and drive the 2 hours it would take to sit with him at the hospital.  I would sleep at the hospital, I would play rummy with him, and watch ridiculous shows on television at 3 o’clock in the morning.  I would get questioned and the side eye every time we told a doctor or a nurse that I was the ex-wife.  But I also got pulled aside as many times by a nurse who wanted to tell me that my presence mattered to him, and that the divorce was just some paper that didn’t stop the connection we shared.

I miss him, even though we didn’t talk every day.  I’m angry at him too. So very angry at him.  And I’m angry that I can’t call him, or text him and tell him just how angry I am.  How are we supposed to work this out and get past it when he’s not here to argue this out with?

I was told that the last month he was an asshole, more so than usual.  And maybe it’s unfair that I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that.  We had a good talk the last time I saw him.  We made our peace and I left his hospital room that day knowing I would never see him again.  I told him I loved him, and thank you for being our daughters’ dad and that when the time came, it was OK to go, I had the girls.  I would take care of them.  We cried, he said he loved me and thanked me for being their mom.

The one thing that is absolutely true about life is that it goes on.  The sun will rise in the east, and set in the west, and life goes on.  Time waits for no one.  I struggle every day with enjoying the good things that happen, because I’m not sure I’m allowed to have fun, and be happy, when my girls are buried so deep in grief.  They want nothing to do with me, and that’s more pain I have to deal with.  Maybe losing them along with their father is what makes all of this so much more poignant.  I have to cling to the belief that eventually, with time, they will come back and we will work this out, even if right now that seems unlikely and impossible.

Grief does horrible things to people.  It makes them lash out, saying and doing things they wouldn’t normally say or do.  The first step towards healing is forgiveness.  I have to forgive him, and then myself, and then the girls.  That will take time, but apparently that’s all I’ve got.

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