Thursday, March 29, 2012

Past Tense

The last two days, I have been missing Jer more than usual. I'm not sure why - perhaps all the chaos and excitement of getting engaged and keeping insanely busy, I tend to push aside my grief. But his smile has been fresh in my mind and my ache for him has been very raw.

Yesterday, I went downstairs to workout on the treadmill (I have a wedding dress to fit into!). I was looking for something to watch on TV and saw that The Patriot was on. I thought "I haven't seen this in awhile, I'll watch the rest of it." Big mistake. All it took was one scene of two men walking, referencing one's deceased daughters. "I'm sure your girls were lovely." (or something like that) "Yes, they were." And I was a puddle of tears.

Were. What is it with those past tense words?! It's so hard to really grasp what that entails when you're talking about someone you love more than anything no longer being here. Almost 17 months later, and I still can't get used to it. Hearing the character refer to his daughters in past tense made me sob uncontrollably on my treadmill. I was thinking 'get a grip' but I couldn't. The pain of knowing someone you love will never fill up space in the world again is a sickening realization.

Last week, I took my daughter on her first field trip. We went to learn about how maple syrup is made. Now, if you knew anything about Jeremy, you'd know he was a proud Canadian who LOVED maple syrup. His uncle and now his cousins make their own and sell it. I was excited to take Faith and somehow tangibly connect her with her daddy and something he loved. But I also remember listening to the tour guide tell us all this random information about how to recognize maple trees, and the process of making syrup, and subconsciously storing the information to impress Jeremy with later. Then that stupid word popped in my head....was. He's not here anymore. I can't see the smile on his face when I show him my interest in learning about maple syrup, even if I don't eat it. Or perhaps surprise him with some information he didn't already know (which would have been highly unlikely). Jeremy now lives in the past tense. And I can't get my brain to accept that.

I still catch myself on a regular basis, saying 'is' instead of 'was.'' I have figured out this day to day thing on my own, it makes sense to me now and I've gotten used to it, but I still can't accept that it's forever. I have so much to tell him, so much to share, so many inside jokes he'd appreciate, so many years of him knowing me like no one else has and wanting to share pieces of my heart I've stored up for him. Knowing I can't is heartbreaking every single time I remember it.

I guess I just have to pray that when the day comes when I get to see him face to face again, I won't forget anything.


  1. Although I'm not engaged, I very much related to many aspects of this post.
    At 21 months I have been feeling that I've been making good 'progress' in my grief work. I think I'm in a much better place than I was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. But lately it's been hitting me again that Dave's not coming back. That he IS dead. That I won't be making any more memories or photographs with him in them. And it leaves me in tears.
    And what is it with movies? I went out with friends to watch a movie last night. (I won't give the title as I don't want to ruin it for anybody.) In one scene somebody dies in the heroine's lap, and she closes the deceased persons eyelids. I instantly flash-backed to the last few hours of my husbands death, watching him die, and then closing his eyelids. I had forgotten I'd done that. Closed his eyelids. I felt sick and wanted to run out of the theater. My friends would understand. But of course I didn't. I just sat there and let the tears roll down my face. (I've learned to accept these unexpected punches in the stomach as part of the grief process. Rolling with the punches means that the next time a flash-back like this occurs, it usually won't hit me as hard. Kind of like desensitization therapy.)

    On a lighter note, as a Canadian I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE maple syrup! This time of year you can go out to any sugar bush and they'll serve you a pancake breakfast (with real syrup of course!). It is a universally Canadian thing for anybody that lives in Ontario or Quebec.
    Your Jeremy sounds like he was a fun guy.

    Your last two paragraphs reminded me of the quote I used in Dave's 1 year memorial ad that I put in the paper so I thought I'd share it.
    "And when we meet again at the journey's end, and we laugh together once more, I will have a thousand things to tell you."-Noor Al Hussein

    1. So, so crazy, Valerie. I saw that movie just last night and that exact scene gave me the most awful flashbacks, too. I sat there, in utter pain, tears rolling. At 10 months, the flashbacks actually seem more vivid suddenly.

  2. Almost 5 years later and I still say, "is". I fell like he is still with us in spirit. I don't know if that is healthy or not, but it is!

  3. I'm so glad I came across your posting. Sounds like your story is very close to mine. I became a 29 year old pregnant widow a couple of years ago. I'm now in a new, wonderful relationship and still have moments like the one you described above. I don't think the pain ever completely goes away or those types of moments. They just become further and further between eachother.

    Haven't seen that movie and now I will definitely not be watching it. I stay away from movies that will bring on more tears. ;)

  4. Funny this should be the topic today. I was "sick" yesterday at the thought of my husband residing in the past. He was a photographer and yesterday I was looking for some images to fit a call from an art dealer. I found some production shots that had been taken of him by his assistant. I didn't know they existed. For a moment it was like I was seeing him through a window, just off on some photo shoot. It was a crushing blow to realize (again) that he is never coming back.

    It has taken me two years to get used to calling him my late husband. I am engaged as well so not adopting that term eventually would get really confusing for others. But there's that tense thing. One thought that made me a little happier is that I will forever be introduced by his siblings as his "wife," present tense. That works for me.

    1. I like that, Tamara. I have thought about that as well, that even though I can't always refer to him in present tense, I will always be to him. There's peace in there somewhere.

  5. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I take peace in knowing I loved my husband until his last breathe. He died knowing I loved him almost his whole life. He died feeling my love. There is a sign I read some where that said "love me until my heart stops".
    The song "Naked As We Came" ~ one of us will die inside these arms. . . .
    gives me peace.

    1. I'm at 29 months and to this day I cannot sit in a movie theater. We did it together so many times. I've gotten past being able to handle many errands at the stores we went to, etc., but movies...can't handle it. As my grief counselor always told me (and she'd been there) it takes so much longer than we realize to even balance out, usually about 5 years to adapt. I so get it. Although the acute pain turns to chronic pain, I am far from feeling any kind of "normal." I still feel like I'm struggling through the days, and my thoughts are far away, thinking of my years with him. Valerie above, I also read Queen Noor's book, before my husband passed, and again after, and I love that quote also. I feel him around me often, and I have been blessed with dreams, but of course it's never the same as the day to day. It's the roughest thing we'll ever go through, and I appreciate having this site to check into and feel the fellowship of others who are traveling the same road. Best to all.