It’s been over seven months since Bryon had passed and over a year since he was in the ICU. I can tell that there are some people who can’t figure out why I am still grieving. I can see the looks and feel the judgement. Surely I should be over it by now. I mean, in the normal world, seven months is a long time. But I am beginning to think that time passes in a very different way in the world of grief. In seven months there have been many milestones with my friends and family. There have been new jobs, engagements and babies. I have managed to function in a 40 hour work week and somehow I manage to remember to pay the bills each month. But for most of that time, I have been living in a fog. The fog is starting to lift which presents its own set of challenges.
The last time I felt alive was a Tuesday in late March in 2016. Bryon had been in the ICU for 5 days and he had gotten an infection and things were going downhill quickly. I called my father and he and my mother did the only thing they could think of that could possibly console me- they took my daughter out of daycare and brought her into the hospital to see me. She was only 18 months old and had no clue what was going on. She wasn’t talking yet, at least not in anything that could be considered part of the English language. She sat on my lap and smiled at me as I hugged her. Things at the hospital got even crazier so my parents brought my daughter home. As my parents were leaving, I remember saying to my mother that if Bryon died then our daughter would be too little to remember him. My daughter’s Godmother showed up. We made some phone calls. Bryon was rushed into emergency surgery and I was told that he might not make it through. I can still remember exactly who was present with me in the private family room as we sat silently in fear while Bryon was in surgery.
My world was literally crashing down. I didn’t know how this could be happening. This didn’t seem real. It was like someone took the floor out from underneath me and I was falling. Bryon was such a strong and healthy person and now he was literally clinging to his life. How could this have happened? And why did this happen? How am I going to live without him?
And at that moment, an emotional pause button was pressed.
From that moment on, for the next five months, I was in complete survival mode. I was just trying to get through each day and do what I needed to do to get to the next day. Some days I lived hour to hour. I lived off of iced coffee, diet soda, those hershey ice cream cones from the hospital cafeteria and whatever food my friends brought for me. I read fluffy literature, taught myself Sudoko and re-organized all my Pinterest boards. I did what I had to do to advocate for Bryon and keep him alive. My only other worry was my daughter but for most of that five months, my parents had pretty much given up their life in Maine and temporarily relocated to Albany to take care of my daughter. For the weeks they went back to Maine, my friends in Albany stepped up and took care of my daughter while I was at the hospital taking care of Bryon.
The button remained paused when Bryon died and remained paused through the funeral. The button remained paused during the weeks following his death. It remained paused as I resumed my running and binge watched all seven seasons of the Gilmore Girls and five seasons of Parenthood. It remained paused that night I drank too much wine and bawled during Jinger Duggar’s wedding. It remained paused after all the countless times I watched Sleepless in Seattle and P.S. I Love You. It remained paused as the United States elected a new president. It remained paused as I went through the motions of “celebrating” the holidays and welcoming a new year. The button remained paused as I left my job at the hospital where Bryon was for four and a half months because going to the same place where Bryon had been sick was too painful and I started a new job working from home for another company.
I was in a survival mode and then the “widow fog”. There is a theory that we are in the fog because the grief is just so bad and that is the only way the grief can be processed. We need to be numb to survive. And now that emotional pause button has been hit again and my emotions are resuming. It’s like I am back in the ICU again and my world is crashing down again. I am left in the same spot. This doesn’t seem real. It is like someone took the floor out from underneath me and I am falling. Bryon was such a strong and healthy person and now he is dead. How could this have happened? And why did this happen? How am I going to live without him?
Now that the widow fog is starting to lift, I am dealt with an avalanche of emotions that I have not been able to process over the past year and it’s like I am feeling all these emotions for the first time. If you somehow wronged me during that time, I am feeling it now. If you made a rude comment about my daughter, I am pissed about it now. I also feel shame because there were people who cared and reached out and I was just too emotionally exhausted to answer all the texts and messages. I hope they understand that I was just too emotionally drained to even have a conversation.
I also am left to process exactly what happened. Everything that happened to Bryon happened so fast and it was one thing after another, like dominoes. I sat in his room in the ICU every day, praying and hoping for the best. I struggled to stay strong, making sure Bryon did not see my fear or the tears. It is now dawning on me exactly how sick he was and what an effect that has had on me. I saw Bryon go through things that no one should ever have to see their love one go through. I think about those hours that I stared at the monitor that showed Bryon’s vital signs while he clung onto his life. I am finally admitting to myself that I should never have had to ever see him suffer like that.
It has been over seven months since Bryon passed and over a year since he went into the ICU. But while that time has passed in the real world, I am left dealing with a year’s worth of emotions in the present. So maybe I should be over it. But I am not.