My partner died fifteen months ago. We were together for almost sixteen years. I felt better after reading a couple stories on here, as they zeroed in on emotions I am still experiencing. I assumed it would take a year and more to – to I don’t know what. Feel better? Be happy? Be less sad? I don’t know.
I can say that I am doing better; I don’t spin out of control like I did a year ago. But, the pain is just as much as it was then, the sadness and joylessness is ever around. I’m in the “de-construction” stage right now I guess. I’m cleaning out rooms, files, etc.
There are some thoughts and emotions I’d like to put out here, for anyone who might be experiencing the same things. Maybe you can give me some advice, maybe not. Or, maybe it will help you/us knowing that someone feels similarly.
One feeling is the aloneness of it all. I am 53 years old; my partner was 44 when he died. So, we were the first of all our friends to experience this. Everyone I know is either single, married, in a relationship, or was in a relationship. But no one else has experienced what I am experiencing. I look at some friends who are couples, and my thought is: You have no idea.
Another thought is about how my partner felt after he died. That is, of course, if there is anything after death. My entire life was lived with a belief that there is an afterlife, or at least I hoped so. Of course, that is now shaken apart completely. The only definite statement I can make is that I know very little. However, it occurred to me that if there is something after death and if anything can be experienced, and then it leaves a possibility that he is grieving as much as I am. I am not getting the words out here to express this worry; it is so hard to assemble the thoughts. The thought that he is hurting as much as I am is so awful that I try not to think about it. Unfortunately, it keeps coming back.
He had cancer that developed rapidly. Cancer is a violent, vicious illness. We were fine one day. Then he was in the hospital the next day. And then we had eight months of illness that were off-the-charts insane. Our life was sickness that only got worse. Some things were so awful I can’t even talk about them. I would imagine someone reading this on this site will know what I mean.
When he was sick, I wished there were some kind of book, pamphlet or guide for a cancer caregiver. Every day was a new experience, usually not a very good one. Then I figured out why there really isn’t such a book – it would be the most depressing book ever written. Who would want to read a book like that?
He went through six weeks of radiation, which came with its own side effects. Then he went through two rounds of chemo that were two treatments each. After one chemo, there were side effects. I thought I was prepared for them the next time, but the next time they were completely something else. And the next time and the next time. And each one a total nightmare. There is a movie, The Birdcage, in which a dinner party is going wrong and keeps getting worse. Robin Williams has a line, “I feel like I’m riding a psychotic horse into a burning barn.” That’s how life was: things got worse and worse and worse. Although I was in denial for a long time through the illness, I had to come to terms with the fact that he was going to die from the cancer. There’s the “burning barn.”
I felt / I still feel that my life was stolen from me. That is an absurdity, as life is life. But it was taken from us, and no one ever asked. It was little by little, everything being peeled away like layers of skin. It took away our normal life together and our privacy together. Then it took away his ability to think and talk, which was a major loss in its own right. And it continued taking. Taking, taking, taking. The cancer ripping our life apart as if we were nothing. One day realized that it wasn’t going to stop, and I felt so powerless. He was my baby. He was the love of my life.