Thank you to everyone who read, shared and commented on last week’s post about my two husbands, I was overwhelmed by your words of support. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.
I want to share with you today, So, this is what it feels like to hurt, about my time following Nick’s death.
It sure as hell wasn’t easy, much as I made it look like a breeze. Here I was telling everyone how accepting I was of his passing, how OK I was, but in reality it hurt like nothing else i’ve ever experienced.
From Nick’s initial diagnosis, we were always realists, very aware of the situation, relying it to anyone who’d listen.
Things weren’t good, they wouldn’t improve, pancreatic cancer would claim his life.
We were so united in this, that it just made sense to me, following his death, that I would continue on the same path.
I was OK, Claudia would be OK, we would manage without Nick and be OK.
Just weeks prior to his passing, in his fear of being forgotten – a very real emotion for the terminally ill, he decided to fill our once empty walls with photos. Photos of us, our daughter, our families, our holidays pics etc.
All the memories he never wanted me to forget. He spent nights splayed out on the floor, going through our photo albums, picking the right ones, he was so proud of his finished photo wall.
Having gone from only having a few photos on display, we now had walls and every available space full of them, including finally putting up in our bedroom a wedding shot, 6 years later!
Plus my girlfriend Margaret, had organised for us to have some professional photos done as a family and these went up too!
After Nick died, especially that first week when the house was full of people, everyone would stop and marvel at all the photos, and comment on how wonderful he was to put it all together. How lucky I was to have this permanent reminder on the walls of our life together.
Yes, I was fortunate, but I didn’t feel that way at 3am, when the baby was crying and I had to walk past the ‘wall of Nick’, wishing so hard that he was here with me. I’d walk quickly past with my head down, so not to look at the photos of his happy smiling face.
Angry, that I was left alone to raise our daughter, angry that he could smile at me when I walked past for the umpteenth time that night to soothe her. That all I wanted was to nudge him in bed and say, ‘your turn, i’ll get her the next time’, like I imagined we would have.
Of course, anger is a rational feeling in going through the stages of loss and it did eventually subside, bringing me to the full acceptance I have today, but it sucked at the time.
I had often felt like a single mum, even when Claudia was born, because Nick was so sick, that it naturally fell on me to look after them both, often simultaneously. After his passing, there was no one else but me, all the time.
I felt cheated, I hadn’t gone into this parenting gig, thinking i’d be going it alone. Of course, when she was a dream child and luckily she mostly was, I was fine, but when she was sick or teething, there was no one to pass her to.
I have huge respect for single mums out there, it’s hard work!
Sometimes around 6pm, when Nick would have been returning home, i’d jokingly have a conversation with one of his photos, ‘Hi love, how was work? So glad you’re home, she’s been a real pain this last hour, can you take her while I start us dinner, and can you change her nappy please!’
And while our families were so supportive, they couldn’t be with us 24/7 and I was so independent, that I refused their offers of help.
I was OK, we’d be OK.
I wasn’t the first single mum widow and I wasn’t going to be the last.
I was determined to go it alone, Nick and I had been such an independent couple, that it was the only way I knew how to be now.
And while I got angry at my situation, it wasn’t aimed at Nick, because I knew he’d do anything to be back with us, it was at life in general.
Mostly i’d have these thoughts alone, because I worked hard on not showing anyone this side of my grief. I felt like I couldn’t show my vulnerability, because everyone kept telling me how well I was handling it, how it was helping them by seeing me so strong. I found I spent much of my time making everyone else feel ok about Nick’s passing.
I heard it a million times that if I (his widow) was coping, then everyone else should too. I felt like I couldn’t fall into a heap, because so many people were looking up to me as a pillar of strength, but sometimes all I wanted to do was throw my phone out the window and be alone.
I was happy to spend time with family and friends who felt like they weren’t coping. In talking to me, they seemed to feel lighter and gain some perspective. If I could openly talk about my loss and pain, while still focusing on all the good and positive that came from it, then maybe they could too, they still had their partners, children etc to go home to.
Some days were too much though, and once Claudia was in bed for the night, i’d find myself feeling so mentally drained, that i’d sit in my room and cry, for the love I lost and the pain I felt and for having to go through this alone.
Seeing happy families was too much, at that stage and I have vivid memories of being at a friends for lunch when they suggested a walk to the local park and the thought of seeing families playing on a Sunday, was enough for me to blurt out every reason why we had to leave so abruptly, sounding something like ‘ive left washing out, got people coming over, Claudia looks tired, it might rain, running late, thanks for lunch!’ Rushing out before they had a chance to register what just happened.
There were some things I just wasn’t ready for.
It was hard for me too some nights at home, looking at all those smiling photos on the wall. At one stage, feeling sorry for myself, I declared my lounge room area a ‘Nick free zone’ and took down all the photos in that vicinity.
It became my place to sit when I wanted to watch mindless TV and not be reminded of him and it usually worked a treat with a glass of red wine!
But all the talking couldn’t detract from the pain, it hurt so much to think of our time together, having to go it alone now, of not having him physically by my side ever again, but I was OK, we were going to be OK, we are OK.
I’ll leave today’s post there, thank you for reading along and your continued support.
Thank you for your beautiful comments and messages, you encourage me to keep writing, you all inspire me everyday!
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Til next week, Michela xx