My Ruined Heart
The days pass, endless and endlessly, longer than they should be, longer than they are. Longer than any days of my life.
My family has been my backbone. Our daughter Erika, heart heavy with her own grief after witnessing Peter's death, has kept me upright, with love and calls, actions and caring, and the help of her husband Paul. My sister and brother traveled to Wachapreague, and spent days with me, comforting me, doing with me tasks that I could not do alone. Their families have reached out in big ways and small to help me through this agony. My dad and stepmother have reached out across the miles with love and support and hearts filled with parental caring and help.
My Eastern Shore friends have come, once I became able to see people, and have brought gifts and food and flowers and the salve of distraction and conversation. My friends from across the country and around the world have sent me letters and notes, cards and gifts, posted their love and support on social media and reached out, over and over, during this awful time.
I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support, and truly grateful. Thank you, all of you. I see your love, I realize its power, and I understand how very much I need all of it and all of you, who have given so freely.
Even so, even with all that, it's hard to describe how empty and centerless my life feels without Peter. It's a long, straight hallway with dim lights and no clear end, no turns, no doors. No windows. It is hard to feel that things will look shiny and bright again ever. In my head, I know they will - experience has taught me that they will - but my heart just doesn't know it yet.
I have been painting. I have been eating, and sleeping fairly well. I've been tending to my unruly pack of dogs, and find that I am grateful for their endless needs and their exuberant joy, and how they greet me with exhilarated welcome every time I walk through a door.
Hold your loved ones close, that is a thing I know now in a way I never knew before, and find a way to a peaceful heart today, in this moment. If there is a thing you do, a way you are, that you don't like in your relationship, change it. Imagine - if he died today, would you regret being a nag? If he died today, would you wish you'd spent less time asking him to pick up his stuff and more time telling him how much you love him? If he died today, would he know how central he was to everything that you do?
These questions and their inevitable answers of failure have cut deep into my heart since Peter died. In the daily ups and downs of marriage, we take small frictions and minor squabbles for granted. I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd been more accepting, kinder, more willing to overlook, give in, acquiesce. I wish I'd written him more poetry and fewer reminder notes. I wish I'd sung him the song of my heart more fully and more clearly. I'd give anything to take back those careless quibbles and exchange them for words of love and support.
We had a good marriage - even, maybe, a great one. We loved each other, treasured each other, told each other so, and sought to make each other happy every day. But if I'd known it would end so soon, so abruptly, I'd have changed so much about myself. I'd have been such a better person, such a better wife. I'm sharing this now not to berate myself, but to offer a moment's pause that might help you avoid an eternity of longing.