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  • Cynthia Coupe

Camp Crash

Camp Widow said there would be a let-down when you got home…it could happen as soon as you walked through the door, or maybe it would take a little more time…maybe it would blindsight you on a Tuesday or come waltzing in the following Sunday… either way, there might be a time where you went from soaring high, kicking it with your widowed crew, to…boom. Home, alone, with a mighty let down.

Camp Crash

So, this is expected.

I think it would have happened anyway. I hear there’s a point where it gets harder instead of easier, and I believe I’m at that point. I go from numb to tears and back to numb. I feel flat. I know this is depression.

The things that sound most appealing are those that make me feel something or distract me completely. I want to drive down the freeway at extreme speeds, blaring music, shop till I drop or buy tickets to travel to yet another global destination. I want to scratch my arms until they bleed, drink until I can’t and stare at social media apps on my phone all night long. It’s hard to focus, I can’t sleep, I stay up too late and wake up foggy-headed.

But PLEASE, please dear readers, please know that really I’m ok. I won’t harm myself or do anything stupid. I have a good support network and a therapist I see regularly. I’m eating good foods, getting exercise and still working. In short, I'm coping. I'll pull out of this.

I just feel…numb.

This hellhole is part of the process. I write about it because we’re not supposed to talk about it, that might make someone uncomfortable, or think you’re nuts…But maybe someday you’ll be in my shoes, or maybe you already are and you thought something was wrong with you.

This is grief, y’all. Deep, aching, gut-wrenching grief.

It’s fucking ugly, and hard and lonely AF because you can’t do it with another person. It’s a singular experience and the one person you wish was here to comfort you is gone…you can’t find them, can’t feel them…don’t even remember their smell.

I used to think I was ok with being alone, that I could do that for years and be ok being me. When my ex-husband and I separated it was only four months before Frank and I started dating. We had been together 18 years, my ex and I, and being alone was exciting. Plus, things between us were amicable… I could still say I love you, I could still give him a hug. Then Frank came along and we hit it off instantly. Following was almost six years of amazing learning, growth, fun and exploration.

Now it’s been nearly 7 months since Frank died. I can’t feel his arms around me or hear his voice say I love you. (Well, I could listen to an old voice mail…but I can’t. It makes the pain too acute, too real. In some weird way, I’d rather forget.) I miss the companionship greater and greater with each passing day. I don’t want to be alone, I didn’t want to be separated from my husband; I was proud to be a wife again.

So I got this bright idea to hop on a dating app and see what was out there. I found someone I was willing to meet, and we set a day and a time for that. OMG he was NOWHERE near the caliber Frank was. It was depressing. I don’t have the strength to actually do what dating takes in this day and age. But I also don’t want to be alone. I want something I can’t have, and I can’t be something I would even want. I’m a wreck. “Hi there, I’m just looking for a friend, nothing serious, but let’s see how it develops…oh, and I’m probably going to talk about my dead husband a lot, and cry at really weird times, and maybe you could hug me and comfort me, and tell me things are going to be ok, even though that’s a lie, they already aren’t…and unless you’re a widow too, please don’t tell me how strong I am…”

Yeah, not really happening, is it?

And that’s OK… To be honest I’m not myself anymore.

While Frank and I were a beautiful match that pushed one another to a crazy and quick trajectory of growth, there were elements of me he didn’t quite get or embrace, so they didn’t really develop. So, while I am no longer who I was with Frank, I get to return to those places that hid in the shadows, because that’s a part of me that’s familiar, and I can embrace.

Just as Frank died, the new me was born.

Life from death.

I was called for something bigger, something I would have never chosen, something that will take beyond my lifetime to understand. And I get to do this from a new place of being.

I have a renewed sense of confidence. I hold myself in a different way. I’m more tender with my “flaws.” I listen to different music..wear different clothing and taller shoes. I put myself out there more, talk to strangers, and attend events where I have to network. When I hear compliments they are received with more grace. My heart is bigger, my capacity to love deeper. I'm learning to listen to my body...what feels like a "yes" and what feels like a "no." I can make decisions with more conviction and less guilt.

While I feel numb and flat, I also feel as though I’m starting to find my footing, to be grounded. I think back now to the first three months past Frank’s death and it feels like a dream state. I’m disembodied from my own memory… Not really sure how I made it through a day or a week or hell...all the other stuff I did. Moving, building the business, comforting Lena, pushing myself to grow. As I land and am grounded, I am aware of what’s missing.

Sometimes I flash forward to myself 30 years from now. Frank feels so far away in that moment, and it hurts..but maybe there’s a piece of him that will be growing brighter too...With any luck, I’ll become somehow closer to him over time, and maybe in a less amount of time I’ll find someone who gets it…who celebrates and loves the new me as much as Frank loved the old me, and my ex loved the me before that.

But the longing, the longing will always be there.

The longing will always be there.

Always, always…the longing





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