There’s a time in everyone’s life, where there’s a breaking point. A sink or swim moment. I’ve had lots of those in my life but not necessarily in regards to my current situation as a besieged widow. For that, I’ve had nothing that even remotely resembles a quick and decisive ah-ha moment. In fact, I’ve had anything but.
In my little world, I have waded through peanut butter everyday over the last 5 years trying to find answers to the million “why’s” I have regarding Wes. These questions continuously swirl in my head, but no answers come to me, or if they do – they arrive at a snails pace. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve actually figured anything out. I’m almost certain I haven’t.
But through it all I’ve had snippets of a life outside of grief. Not total emancipation from the shackles that hold me to my grief, but some. And some counts for something. The times when the clouds have parted, and I can see the sunlight, I am happy. Happy for the reprieve, that is. Happy to shed the 1000 pound weight that has resided on my head, my shoulders and in my heart for what seems like a lifetime, and which feels like forever.
But I think back on a time about a year into the grief cycle that I had a space of time where my life took a break from the all consuming pain, and I stood outside of it for a bit – for an hour – maybe a couple. I just remember the night.
It was probably a year after Wes passed away and I was still in the all-consuming funk and dreaded existence of widowhood. I still am, by the way, but I am stronger today than I was on this night and at this time. I wasn’t very good company in those days, although I tried. I tried as hard as I could. That may not have amounted to a whole lot on the outside, but trust me, on the inside and from where I was standing – it was all I could muster. Loss is a tough animal for anyone, of course it is, whether the person is your parent, child, sibling, spouse or friend. But for me, this loss just about put me under, and there were pockets of time that I wouldn’t have minded if it did. Just make the pain stop. I’m begging you God. But I’m still here. Still standing. Still.
On this particular night and as the story goes, there was a dinner party at my dear friend Bill’s house. He had invited some neighbors but mostly our high school friends that were all still close. And as I got sandwiched between Bill to my right and Steve to my left, Bill the storyteller and Steve the giggler and howler and I, the welcome recipient of both, I was happy to be there. Tall tales and laughter collided in a big way that night, and my world had joy for a moment in time.
It should be noted that there was a fair amount of alcohol being had by all, at this catered dinner. Well – probably a lot of alcohol, but it was a factor in this story. In actuality, Bill is funny with or without drinking, but this story – this one, was friggin’ hilarious.
As Bill started to regale Steve and I in the details of the night he took the little blue pill – the story just took a dive to the underbelly of decorum. It went south fast, and that’s just a fact. Included in the dreadful tale were specifics about the cause and affects of taking this pill, but the story was more about the distraction and the discomfort of his Viagra use, as he took it out of curiosity and not necessity. That was a fact that he was adamant to point out. Somewhere in this dark tale lies the truth, but I wasn’t asking. But with every layer of this sordid affair, Steve and I were laughing harder and harder. While Bill dragged out every illicit detail as far as he could, to get as much traction as he could, the sheer genius of the storytelling left Steve and I laughing until we cried. The theatrics had me immersed in a wondrous moment, in which my life and it’s own tortured saga took a back seat. The more we laughed, the more amped up Bill got, and the more detail laden his descriptions. Slapping the table, leaning into one another, holding our stomachs in wholehearted hysteria, this tale undoubtedly took over our end of the table. I was elated to laugh, to belly laugh actually, and feel every particle of the humor as I was equally shocked at my ability to absorb and let go. But this belly-laughing episode was epic for me at this particular time in my grief journey, and one that I still can look back on with great love for the friends that helped me, or forced me to react so strongly. Sitting on Bill’s beautifully decorated deck, at his beautifully decorated candlelit table, I got lost in the story. For that moment in time I didn’t even know there were other people with us, and for all intents and purposes, it was just the three of us.
Sparing the details of the Viagra debacle, the laughter was what struck me more than anything. But the story was good – great in fact, like stand up comedy great.
But losing myself in the moment, feeling the love and connections to my friends and sharing that moment no matter what the story line, sticks with me above all else and as one of my favorites. Reckless abandon trumped grief and yet I was still a spectator to my life that night, as I often am. But I still wondered through the comic relief, if I even had the right to laugh? Do I have the right to throw it all away, the pain and grief that is, for a night or even just an hour? Do I get to put it aside and forget about it for a little bit, because in order to forget the pain, I have to forget about Wes. At this juncture in my journey, the two were synonymous. But more so, how do I gauge laughter and pain? In my little world of Sharon, the determination is to remember Wes at his fullest and most robust self. Forgetting him, even momentarily, was unfathomable, or at the very least, not respecting the grief over losing him. A daily conundrum of mine, to be sure.
Endlessly I contemplate if these two can be separated, especially in the early years after Wes passed. But even today, even feeling stronger, this question and its guilt still remain. In degrees these days, to be sure, but still it lingers and I still don’t really know. In some ways it seemed disloyal to Wes to have had such unadulterated fun. I could maybe even say joy for a snippet of time, but it was a lesson for me again. A lesson that was letting me know that if I could laugh that hard at the worst and darkest times in my life, then maybe, just maybe those proverbial steps will actually lead me somewhere one day. One day in the future – a future that has been dark and shrouded. But for that moment, for that one hour, with my friends, I caught a glimpse of what that used to feel like, and what I’d like for it to feel like again. But in the interim, I will take the snippets. I’ll take it anyway I can get it, and so I did.
And in the ensuing years, ever since that night, I recollect on that emotion that I was allowed to indulge in, and I hold onto the memory. Because within every snippet of levity, there holds hope for me. And those moments have value because they give a voice to the heartbreak inside of a soul that still wants to live but just doesn’t know how. But even at the harshest point in my grief, laughter came to visit and let me know that it was still possible. That I was still capable of feeling joy, no matter how fleeting it was, if just for that one evening.