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Emotions & Challenges, Grief Journey, Losing a Spouse or Partner

Along the Way – 6 Months: “I Love You Now and Forever”

“His disease killed him as surely as breast cancer killed my college roommate, as mercilessly as a heart attack killed a good friend.”

He was here only moments ago, and yet, it’s been an eternity since he’s been gone. My husband died six months ago as of this writing, and some part of me still rejects the knowledge that he will never return. That I will never again hear his voice, feel his touch or simply be content knowing that he will be there for me – as he always had been.

We were together for 25 years. He was my best friend, my confidant, my partner, my lover. In private conversations, we often left sentences unfinished, knowing the one already knew what the other would say.

Fred was diagnosed as bipolar in May 2012. Before that, I had noticed that his behavior had taken an odd turn. But I never put the pieces together until it was far too late … just days before his death, we were planning the next phase of our lives together. We were to devote ourselves to our writing. He was a composer and I, an aspiring novelist. We both wanted so much to achieve something meaningful during our lifetimes.

On June 28, 2012, he hanged himself from the staircase in our home. Finding him was a nightmare that will never go away, although I’m told its power over me will diminish over time. And reading his journals – some dated from before I met him – and learning about his disease, I have come to realize that he did not die by choice. His disease killed him as surely as breast cancer killed my college roommate, as mercilessly as a heart attack killed a good friend.

He believed – with good reason – that he would be forced into taking medications that would impair his ability to compose music. He feared – with justification – that he would spend time in psychiatric hospitals. He believed – probably correctly – that he would never be free of the stigma of mental illness. He worried that I would leave him. He wrote:

“I’m gonna miss you when

I have to say goodbye

I could try, but I couldn’t live without …

Live without the one I love.”

But there he was wrong.

I never would have left him. We loved each other too much. I loved him too much. Yet his illness whispered to him relentlessly and insidiously. It was a voice I did not know how to refute. And so, he made the only choice he believed was left to him.

Does he still exist, as soul, as spirit, as essence of life incarnate – or merely as ashes in a Monterey cemetery? I have no idea. All I know is that I will love him the rest of my days and will carry his love for me forever with me.

And yet, I am so lonely, I miss him so much, that I don’t know how I can continue. I try – putting one foot in front of the other until I arrive … somewhere. Will I continue to do so – persuading myself that, one day, my destination will matter? I don’t know.

Christmas 2012 was the first in 25 years that I spent without him. Will I make it to a second Christmas alone? We will see.

I tell myself that to give meaning to my husband’s death, I must begin a new journey … that I must work to prevent others from the ravages of this terrible illness.

Will I? Am I strong enough to do so?

Ask me next year.