Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life Without Brian

*WARNING -- This blog post may be very difficult and painful to read, so I recommend you seek privacy and tissues before proceeding.*

It's been over four months since Brian died and in some ways the reality of that, as well as the impact, is just starting to sink in. All along, I have known that I've been in a state of denial. Obviously, I understand what happened on an intellectual level. But that hasn't stopped me from replaying the scene from the hospital waiting room over and over in my head and continuing to hope that the words of the doctor will be anything but what they were that day, that I will wake up and find this was all a terrible dream. I don't remember many of the specifics of that conversation in the waiting room due to my fear and shock, but I remember the doctor explaining to me and Jeremy (Brian's brother) his condition upon arrival, the word "asystolic" (which I knew from a case at work was a very bad thing), and the words, "Brian passed away..." I remember yelling out, "NO!" and hearing Jeremy yell the same. It was as if I heard myself, but didn't have control of my voice or my body. I was beside myself. I didn't hear anything else the doctor said after that, but after a couple more sentences, I interrupted him and said, "Wait -- are you sure? Is there anything else you can do?" I just couldn't accept what he was telling me.

I've frequently thought of that horrible morning and I always think, "No, that didn't really happen. I just imagined it. I just have to imagine a different outcome and then he'll be okay." It makes no sense to say that, and I know it sounds crazy. Again, there is a dichotomy between my brain and my heart. I can understand, mentally, the events that occured. What transpired, though, is too much for my heart to understand or accept. My soul, the core of my being rejects that reality because it is too shocking, too painful, too tragic, to accept. This probably doesn't make much sense to anyone who has not experienced something like this on a very personal level. I think a great deal of it has to do with the sudden nature of Brian's death. I know many of the people I called with the awful news reacted in the same way. The gut reaction to such news was (and often is) to say, "No!" or "You're kidding! Tell me that you're joking. That can't be true." For many friends, the news was too much to grasp on a frigid but otherwise unremarkable Sunday morning. Anyone who has had that reaction to bad news -- that gut reaction to reject the information -- knows what I'm feeling. It's just that, for most people in most circumstances, that gut reaction gets quickly overcome by logical thinking and an intellectual understanding of what has occurred. I'm just taking a lot longer for the intellect to take over. My gut still screams, "No! That can't be true!" every time I think about what happened. I'm just too frail to accept the truth. I don't accept that Brian's life was taken from him at 31 years of age. I don't accept that he'll never see his nieces grow up, never travel to Australia, never again spend a lazy Sunday sleeping in with me, never again pet our beloved cats or play laser chase with them, that he won't see our friends get married in wine country this fall -- I still don't accept these things!

When I briefly -- and foolishly, I might add -- tried to return to work a couple weeks after Brian died, one of my co-workers shared some insight on grieving. He told me that it is the permanancy of death that is the hardest, and that realizing the impact and the permanancy is something that happens later on down the road. It is realizing that there will never be another Christmas together, that milestones will happen without that person, and the fact that the departed will never again be seen in human form that is the hardest, and this is also something that takes time to realize. I think I am starting to realize this, and to feel the pain and impact of losing Brian.

There have been a few birthdays that have come up -- a shared 30th birthday a week after Brian's death and Lily's 4th birthday to name a couple -- and Wine Club gatherings where it has started to sink in. These events have given me pause, thinking how unfair and sad it is for him to miss out and for us to not have him there adding to the festivities. But what is really hitting me now is the little things. "Does this dress look good? Which earrings/purse/shoes are best?" Brian had a good eye for fashion and I trusted his taste. More important, he was honest with me. Do you think a slightly pudgy widow can get an honest opinion from anyone else?! Ha! Not there there is anyone to ask every morning anyway. I miss not only the honesty and voice behind the opinion, but the constant availability of having someone there to ask. "Can you fix that?" I hate having to ask male friends for help with things like fixing the mailbox or taking down Christmas lights. "What do you think of [insert person/food/wine/restaurant/throw pillows/any situation imaginable]?"

I looked to Brian for guidance on career, relationships with other people, cooking, dressing, decorating, making social plans, everything! That is what spouses do -- they share a life. Now, I don't have that, and I miss it terribly. Living alone, no one else knows the whole of my life the way Brian did as my husband. No one else knows the ins and outs of my life -- the people I know, the things I like, the personality traits I have, etc. -- like he did. I have lost my primary advisor and counselor. As my husband, Brian was my best friend and true companion. I am just starting to understand the depth of losing him. I know that, moving forward, there will be many more things that will trigger my sense of loss, of pain, and of anger. The cruel irony is that it is the things that we enjoyed the most together that -- though they often give me the most comfort -- are the most painful to experience alone. I think football season will be the hardest for me. That was what he loved -- and we loved sharing -- the most.

I'm just glad I told Brian all the time how much I loved him and how much better he made every part of my life. I keep trying to remind myself that I was lucky to have someone who made my life that great. And, yes, I'm writing this paragraph in a slightly pathetic attempt to cheer myself up. But, hey, it's working a little. Forced optimism does wonders when you have no other alternative to stop the tears. I really was lucky, though, to have him and share as many good times as we did...though I may be forcing myself to be an optimist in this trying time, I'm not lying to myself. I was lucky to know him, to have him, to share my life with him, and -- most of all -- to be loved by him.


  1. Loved this post, it must have been very hard to write. It still doesn't seem real to me either and I expect to see him in so many places. You are such a strong woman and you are blessed with so many wonderful memories. You are a gifted writer Wendy, and I think this blog is a great idea.

  2. Hello wendy. I'm five weeks out since I lost the love of my life and reading you entire blog help a lot. thank you.