I’ve felt heartbreak before. I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve ended long relationships, I’ve been betrayed. Nothing was like the heartbreak of May 2018. The loss was overwhelming. It was the death of a 16 year old relationship. It was the death of us as a couple, not her as a wife, but to my mind, body, and soul, it made no difference.
That Sunday night in May, I listened to “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in the master bedroom of our house and grieved like I never grieved before. All of my guts were twisted up inside of me and my heart felt like it was pulling itself to pieces. I collapsed on the floor and cried and made noises like a wounded animal. My beautiful bride was dead. Gone. Lost forever.
After a while, I wiped my tears off the floor with my hands and pants then returned to my new bedroom, the living room. Carol sent me a text that she had to come back to pick up her notebook. I ached all over. I couldn’t stop shaking and crying. I had to calm down before she arrived but I couldn’t. I thought maybe it was just as well that she saw how much damage she had done but at the same time, I wanted to show no weakness.
The ghost of my wife entered the house. I stood up from the couch that would be my bed for the next month and quickly moved to the other side of the room. She apologized, I think, and grabbed her notebook. Any look she gave or any words she attempted to speak were met with, “It’s okay, I’m okay.”
When she got back to her parents’ house, she sent me a message, apologizing again. She said she wanted to hug me but knew that wouldn’t help. I didn’t want a hug from her. She wasn’t the woman I loved. No, I wouldn’t touch her for another month, and when I finally did, she would have tears in her eyes and whisper, “Thank you.”
Today, Carol went to see her counsellor. She told her about our disastrous start to our vacation. The counsellor told her she was surprised that with all the hassle we were dealing with, we didn’t fight. Instead, we worked together to figure it out. Until Carol mentioned that today, it never crossed my mind just how in sync we were with each other, using our own strengths and putting them together to come up with a solution.
“Wow, I never even thought of that. We kinda kicked ass, didn’t we?” I messaged.
“Damn right, we did!” Carol replied.
I’m glad she brought that to my attention because it was quite amazing teamwork that came so naturally, I didn’t even think about how special it was. It reminds me of why I’m fighting for this relationship.
It was shortly after thinking about our great dynamic that I suddenly heard the song in my head and all the feelings of loss came back to me. I thought to myself, I know exactly how I would feel if Carol died, because I felt it that day. I wonder if she feels the same about me. Night after night, she lay crying in that room, away from her home and children, full of regret, realizing that she was so wrong about us, about me. Did she know the grief of mourning my death, or was it different for her?
I don’t want to feel that way again. That’s not completely in my hands, though. What is in my control is being the best man I can be. Taking care of myself comes first. I’ve been working hard on healing myself in the latter part of this year and I fully intend to continue in the new year.