Sunday, August 7, 2016

#SOL16: Rereading

I did something I thought I would not do.  Last night I reread earlier posts written this past February and March. I read just a handful of posts--not in the order they were written, not one after the next, but rather I read randomly selected posts. I alternated between rereading and crying some and throughout the sick feeling that was more norm than not all through those months returned. And with it some insight.

Rob at home before we knew he was so sick. 
Rob before a 7-hour VAT Surgery, end of Aug. 2015

Rob using oxygen at home in Sept. 2015
My husband suffered in the last 6 weeks of life--he suffered more than I had recalled. Confused, frightened, in debilitating pain he moved from being mostly present to being largely absent from the here and now. And though there is no finality like death, I realize as I reread that I had been losing Rob in bits and pieces throughout the winter and I wonder did he understand this loss of self, too? While Rob was home for the last three weeks of his life, I took photo after photo of him while he mostly slept.

Rob in October 2015, right before chemo treatment
Rob in the hospital after surgery in Nov. 2015
Rob at home in late December 2015

Rob in ICU in January 2016
Rob in Palliative Care in February 2016
Rob at home a few days before he died, March 2016

I was obsessed with framing him, as if the click of a shutter might somehow preserve the most animated man I have ever known. Now when I find courage to look at some of these images, I feel profound sadness and loss. The man captured barely resembles my husband. I had forgotten so much of those days and for the first time my love for Rob is less selfish and though I miss him more than breathing, I would not want him back given his agonizing death. No one should ever have to relive such misery. In his passing--I want to believe that he achieved both solace and peace.

Rob holding our new dog , Max--years ago
At first, after Rob died and for several months beyond I saw in my mind Rob as he had been as he neared death. I visualized Rob's final minutes on earth over and over and over again. And so as I looked at images of Rob from those last few weeks, I was surprised to see how little the man pictured actually looked like Rob.  This is important as I understood that without much notice I had stopped seeing Rob only as he existed as he neared death and instead had begun to think of him in earlier times when the threat of death was unknown.

Five months have past and I still find myself thinking how unreal all of this last year has been. Shock is no simple matter. Shock is more like Bach's permutation fugue. No exposition, just a collection of thematic fragments that occur and at times, reoccur.

I find myself wondering, still:
How could my husband have died? What happened to spring? How could the world have lost such a fine, fine man? Is the summer light brighter than in previous years? Where did he go? How can Dev and I be making new memories without Rob? Are birds carriers of the spirit of the dead? Where is heaven? Is Rob living in a parallel universe? Does he exist at the edge of where my fingers grasp--just out of reach? How do I live as Rob directed? What does it mean to live brilliantly? How could he leave me? How could he not? How will Devon fare? 
And so on.

Meaning gives dimension to sorrow--allows us to know it's size and shape. But with Rob's death, there is no meaning, no given dimension, no box to contain sorrow that grows as if it has only known spring. Grief is boundless, subdued now and then by love.


  1. In August a smile, never to return, at least in pictures.

    While we are all one in spirit, in this realm we cannot escape our individual selves, even as our spirits connect for what feels like a time. Then what feels like a disconnect is only illusion, although it carries a sting.

    1. Yes, it does carry a sting. When I reread your comments, this stands out most: We cannot escape our individual selves is so profound. Thanks:)