Looking for something else entirely tonight, I found an e-mail I'd sent to a friend of A's in November of 2006, just 4 months after he died. In it, I'm talking to her about how I was having some better days, and that I was hoping that the worst was over.
I can only laugh now, and pity that poor woman that was me. She was clearly out of her mind.
I suppose that after 4 months, things had already started changing, that I had already started healing compared to the shock and confusion I felt when it first happened. But I had no idea how long and hard the road would be; I had no idea what I was in for yet.
This is why I burned my journals; I don't want to know how bad it really was. I don't want to remember; 4 1/2 years have wrapped it in protective paper and put it safely away, and that is a blessing. I remember corresponding with author and poet Mark Doty after reading his book. He lost his partner some years ago, and he told me, widower to widow, that he couldn't really remember the pain itself; he can remember that it was horrible, but couldn't really conjure up the full horror of it now. When he told me that, I was sure it was impossible, because my pain then was so acute, I couldn't believe it. But I wanted to.
But as it turns out, he was right. We widows talk about how the pain of losing our beloveds is so terrible and terrifying that one's mind will not allow one to imagine it in advance; and it seems that the mind's protective instincts eventually come back again, and we cannot fully put ourselves back into the worst of it, even though we were there and don't really need to imagine it. Sometimes, I think I try just to test myself, to push the limits of my emotional muscles and see just how healed I might be, like someone testing a broken leg after the cast has been removed. When I do it, I have this vague feeling like remembering a nightmare...I remember the feelings I had at the time but I don't FEEL them anew in the remembering. And that, too, is a blessing. The healing is real. It really does happen.