All of us face setbacks in life. The loss of a job, a friend betrays you, illness and a deal that falls through–all of these hit us hard. But the sudden and unexpected loss of a spouse is in an entirely different universe. I last posted to this blog a week before my wife was rushed to the hospital with what we thought was a severe case of flu. Ovarian cancer was the diagnosis and twenty-one days later she died. Who would have thought? We had been together for six years, married only four months. We were building our forever home, then she was gone.
That was over four months ago and I have been working on putting one foot in front of another and trying to breathe ever since. Clichés and mindless advice surround the survivor during the weeks that follow. They come in along with the remorseless demands of creditors and service-providers anxious not to miss a payment. People tell you that there are stages of grief, and perhaps there are, but what they don’t tell you is that they all arrive at once, like one of those packaged meals. You have to cook it all up at once and consume it before it turns into something worse.
At the depths of this process you learn, with a lot of pain, that you are all alone in your loss. People, people that you know and acted like friends begin to avoid you. No one calls, no one checks in. You are alone. The rooms of the house seem that much larger, emptier and silent. Grief becomes a silent process, that for me was shared only with the dog, her dog. Your birthday is forgotten, travel plans are cancelled and the hours hang, day after day.
Then, slowly you begin to understand, not about the death, but about your life. You have to begin to step forward. I write novels. Espionage and adventure novels. There are eight of them so far. Number eight is to be released in the fall. In order to channel my feelings of loss and abandonment I turned to the words I had begun to put on paper when Barbara died. It began as an excruciatingly slow process. I had to throw a lot out, rework some of the characters, revise time lines, all the stuff you do when you invent a story in your head.
As you begin to doubt everything, wondering if you can ever make a change, fate again intervenes. Someone says your name out loud. A stranger smiles at you and suddenly you aren’t so alone. Cautiously you begin to reach out. There is a certain tension, anticipation that forms a seal over the wound you carry.
Start writing, the voice tells you. And so you do. The memory of what you had and lost will never go away, but it will become a part of your story going forward. And maybe, just maybe you will find that one thing we all seek, love and the happiness it brings.
Next week I promise to post a chapter from the book I am now working on. It’s working title is The Lost Klimt. Meanwhile, all of my titles are available on Amazon.com