F Nelson Smith
A time for Death and Unending Grief
October 8, 2020
I have not contributed to a blog for some time, as an acquaintance reminded me. On October 10, 2019 my husband, my best friend and supporter, died of a heart attack. One call from the hospital and I was told he would not last the day, that they could only make him comfortable. He did not regain consciousness or open his eyes to say goodbye. He did suffer from congestive heart failure, but with medication fared well. We celebrated his 99th birthday on March 30, 2019 and I was making plans for a 100th celebration. We also celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on September 29, 2019. Ten days later, he was gone. Physically he became frail, but mentally he was still capable of enjoying life, and I still feel betrayed and bewildered by his death. Foolish perhaps.
I always wonder how I would have acted differently had I known he would die when he did. I have no satisfactory answer. Would I have told him more often that I loved him? Of course. We always told each other that we would never be apart. Somehow, saying it over and over made it seem true. Was I lying to myself? The thought that I failed him by believing he would never leave me leads me to accuse myself of neglect. If I have loved him more, or kept him home, would he still be here?
It has been a year, and with the Covid 19 isolation, the days of loneliness have stretched out. People say that time heals, but somehow the memories are more painful, separation more difficult to bear. It seems like I have fallen into a black hole, never reaching the bottom, just continually falling. I question my faith, blame myself for not doing enough, or doing the wrong things.
At the beginning of September, I grew desperate and went on a road trip by myself. Limited to the confines of Alberta, I took all the back roads George loved, meandering around the countryside finding places full of surprises, and new scenes. My intent was to visit all the tourist sites that we had seen together. Did I think I would find him there? Maybe feel the same joy or companionship we shared before? With no idea of what I was searching for, I pushed along, telling myself I was going walkabout, finding new roads, anything as long as I did not have to come back to a place where he isn't. After one foul night of sickness, I eventually returned home, tired and dispirited, but to the relief of my kids, who were reluctant with me wandering around by myself.
Most days, limited by the confines of Covid regulations, I find things to occupy my time. But the house is silent and vacant. As for writing, I have no inclination or desire to try. In the middle of my next novel, I don't know what I want to say to move the plot forward and can't remember the plan to develop the story. Perhaps I should read the whole thing from the beginning to find out. Instead. ignoring the knowledge that a first draft is always a mess, I tell myself the story is boring and not worth continuing. Mostly, the desire to create is not there.
Death comes to all, but shouldn’t there be some sign that his spirit is with me? When there is nothing and the nights stretch out, I talk to him, pretending he is here, then burst into tears and wish my life would come to a quick end. People tell me I am lucky to have had those years, and I get angry they do not understand that when a person is old, it is not the time to be left alone. Having each other is the only thing left.
Everyone agrees 2020 is the worst of times.