Monday, March 14, 2011

Still A Toddler


Well, it's Sunday night, and I just realized I needed to get to writing my Monday post. I have kept very busy today with home improvement projects. And, because of Spring being at my door, I have been miserable with allergies. I seem to be popping Benadryl all day long, as if they were breath mints, which is likely why I have been so drowsy all day as well. Not the kind of day where I would be focused on what date it is.

So I sat down, opened this window to write, and realized it was March 13th. Now I'm not usually one to keep track of dates, which is why I only now realize it, but I have been a widower for exactly 18 months today. I suppose the other way of looking at it, is that Michael has been gone for exactly 18 months.

You know, some days it feels like I have lived without him for such a long time now. The days seem to last so long without him. Yet when I look at the number, I recognize that 18 months is not very long at all. What's 18 months when you expected to be together forever, or at least until you grew old together.

If I think of myself as a baby, or a toddler, I see that I am still in the infancy of grieving. It hasn't been so long since I found the use of my legs, and began walking on my own. I'm still unsure of what lies ahead, partly because at this age, I still don't have a real since of others. I see myself as the center of the universe, and everything, or everyone, else is clouded by my grief.

Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself, thinking I am further along than I actually am, and quickly find myself falling flat on my face. I may cry and cry, but for this toddler, there is no one there to pick me up. There is no one there to hold me close, and reassure me that everything is going to be alright. And because no one is there, I have learned to talk to myself, telling myself to get back up, and start walking forward all over again.

Some falls are little, and I am easier to accept that I will be alright. Other times the fall is harder, and may cause a cut or bruise, which are not so quick to heal, or to repair themselves. These are the times when I feel like I am walking around with an open wound for all to see. The sad thing is, not many people see past the band aid that I clumsily put on my skinned heart. They may notice that somewhere under that bandage is a hurt, but they must tell themselves that I am obviously being taken care of, otherwise I would be walking around bleeding. I always appreciate the rare person who stops me, and asks how I am doing, or inquires how my hurt feels today. I may not have sought the help, but when another person is willing to sit with me, and offers to lift the bandage, so as to clearly see my wound, that is when I know I will be alright again.

And as is the case with an 18 months old, bedtime is not the easiest process to get through either. First of all, I don't like having to sleep alone. I still want, and crave, that warm body next to mine. I still want the feel his heart pumping, or to have his arm pull me close if I need some added assurance. Then as I lay there, hoping that sleep will come soon, it hits me just like every other night, that that which is needed to pacify my agitated soul has been taken away.

I know that I'm supposed to be a big boy now when it comes to living with my grief. Yet, like a baby who is sung a lullaby each night before sleep, I was given a goodnight kiss, along with the words "I love you," before I closed my eyes each night. Now I must soothe myself. I still whisper gently to him each night, "I love you Michael," but now there is no response.

It's not so easy having to grow up and stand on my own two feet. Yet that is what I must do. If I do want something more out of this life, then I will have to walk the best way I can. I will have to assure myself, that if I keep walking, I might just come across something shiny and new.

One step at a time. Getting better and better with each step I take.


  1. Dan I could not have said it better myself. I love the comparision to a toddler. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one going through this. Thanks it helps!

  2. Nice, Dan. I was at 20 months yesterday. Not yet able to survive on my own in the wild, but somewhat abandoned there myself.

  3. Dan, I was just telling my daughter the same thing about how we are starting to walk again after one year without the man we loved so dearly. These lines are the best...."They may notice that somewhere under that bandage is a hurt, but they must tell themselves that I am obviously being taken care of, otherwise I would be walking around bleeding." How wonderful those rare times when someone will actually acknowledge our profound grief.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. I am almost 2 years, and wondering if I will ever learn to walk alone again. I did before we were married or a couple, but 30 years with someone you love brings you back too that point. I pray I will someday be able to go through a day without falling apart at the thought of him being gone.

  5. Great analogy Dan and poignant post. Learning to live again without them is indeed difficult. xxx

  6. Wow, it's like I could have written it myself, it was 18 months for me on March 2nd. Only my grief counselor & I understand that I'm at the toddler stage of my grief over losing my Michael, great analogy. So much of what you said is so true, I can relate to it so well. Thank you.

  7. I have the 17th month mark coming up on the 18th (just a few days away). Thanks for this post, as tonight I came home from work and had that feeling of disbelief, asking myself "did this REALLY HAPPEN?" Sometimes I still can't believe it. I know what you mean about sleeping listening to his heart beating. When my husband passed, in Hospice, I put my head against his chest, I guess to convince myself it was true. There was no sound. Twenty eight years of listening to that heart is still so unreal. That people don't understand our grief is an understatement, when they expect you to move on and have a new life when you are still saying "did it really happen?" Blessings to all who mourn.

  8. Dan, Thank you for this beautiful post.
    Each night I crawl into bed< I turn on my side and mentally go through our ritual, my snuggle into his back, my arm around his waist, my cheek on his shoulder, my "I love you" his "I love you so much, have good dreams".

    Only now, I am alone in the bed.
    Still - I send it out to the universe so he will know - never forgotten.

  9. Today I struggled. Cried numerous times in the car and then frustrated wondered this evening "Why is it so bad today?" And then I realized that it was the 14th. 9 months today.
    Then the moment of guilt rush in for not 'remembering' sooner (like I ever 'forget' that he's dead).

    I too crave the warm body next to mine at night but it's tormenting to go through it each evening.

    I think of the tragedy in Japan and all those who have lost multiple loved ones and their homes and future, and try to feel a little less sorry for myself. The world certainly does seem very hard and random, and life is upside-down in an instant.

  10. I am always so thankful for each person who shares their thoughts and feeling here. I consider this blog as somewhat of our wailing wall. It's a place to go each day, to see our reflection, then to reflect back to others so that they may see it in you. We each have so much to share, and so healing to share it with each other.

    Much Peace.


  11. I'm coming up on 5 months on the 18th. Oh, this one resonates with me on so so many levels. After nearly 30 years, it all seems impossible it ever happened, and now everyone else around me thinks, "it's done, move on". Can I ever?

  12. As a widow of 5.5 years out, this analogy is very fitting, Dan. I know at 18 months I thought that I should have all the grief figured out and over and done with, and I would have said I was in my 20s then: experienced, educated, ready to take on the world…or that it was time to. And I was totally wrong, because in hindsight, 18 months really isn't very long: you really are like a toddler in grief…and just like most people in their 20s (meaning: young, dumb, and stupid--even the good, responsible ones =)), you don't know nearly as much as you think.

    At 5.5 years out, I wonder if maybe I'm in my 30s or 40s of my grief--past the tantrums and emotional hurricanes of grief toddlerhood and adolescence, and past the worst of my arrogant, think-I-knew-it-all (but really didn't) 20s of grief.

    Thanks for sharing this, Dan. I plan to share it with people.

  13. Thank you Dan,
    Reading this has helped me to better understand myself as a "newborn" at 1 month old in this "new life" I am painfully aware and alive. I have my husbands "special" pillow and I fall asleep holding it everynight. I find permission in your words to "act my age" I cry when and where I need to I ignore things that are not urgent and am somewhat self absorbed ( which I had neveer been before) perhaps I will grow up.. Someday <3 to us all <3

  14. To anon above...I was touched when I read that you are at one month. I am at 17..I could write a volume on being at one month. Looking back, I would ask you to not have any expectations of yourself and take it slow. When and if you are ready, grief counseling is very helpful, because they keep you on track in terms of realizing that the myriad of emotions and behaviors you have are normal and you are not going crazy. Definitely take everything at your own pace, and don't let anyone make you feel like you "should" be doing anything that does not feel right to you. Go with your gut. I am very sorry for your loss. I personally have a grief journal, which I use to write to my husband in. Conversations. May sound odd but that notebook became a safe place to me. To Dan, I really appreciate the way you respond to your "posters" with feedback. You sound like a caring, sensitive, fabulous soul. God Bless.

  15. Love the way you related the grief process to that of developmental milestones. Beautiful and moving.