Monday, May 21, 2012

Black Hole

from here

I didn't see this one coming at all, so I couldn't prepare myself (which is a sensation I'm getting familiar with now).

I was nothing but excited to look at potential houses to buy. I didn't think of the trigger it would be to go house shopping without Dave for the first time. I'm glad I didn't know ahead of time what it would do to me, or I'd never have gone. Blind, naive enthusiasm - thanks for getting me out of the house in the first place!

While a dear friend, the realtor and I drove around, I began to feel a little unease. I couldn't put a finger on it. There was just something "off". My enthusiasm and optimism drained out of me a drop at a time. It wasn't a black hole, or a sob session (yet). It was just a little discomfort and the sensation of detaching from the moment and hovering above. Not quite present in my body.

Each house was nice, but not the "one". Each neighborhood was okay, but not the "one". I didn't feel true enthusiasm for much at all and just couldn't access a feeling of excitement.

I began to worry about being a homeowner again. Each house I looked at was a potential money pit and neon sign screaming "Lady - YOU NEED A JOB!". Each house was situated in neighborhoods full of families and couples and smugly whispered "You're alone again at 36! These are houses for couples and families!".

By the time I got home, I still hadn't realized what was headed my way, grief-wise. I was a little mopey when I set down my purse and keys. I picked up my gigantic cat, Rosco, to snuggle him for comfort and turned to my right. Staring back at me were two pictures of Dave and me on our travels. My tribute tiles from camp.

In a rush, an ocean wave of gigantic proportions, I fell down the black hole. I held Rosco and cried into his fur for a while. I could hear echoes of my old life all around me. Our sunny, beautiful home-of-our-dreams, now inhabited by strangers, materialized around me, my current life falling away. I was transported back to that life of married security, sharing our love for those silly cats of ours, making plans and splitting life up equally so that neither one of us had to take it all on alone. I felt the loss of it all wash over me, amplified by the stark contrast of the experience that day - searching for a house for a single woman. Attempting to take on my next big life event without my best friend and partner in everything.

I felt my insides shredding apart. I felt the black hole in my gut open up. I cried until my head pounded and I could no longer breath through my nose.

So I filled the bath with extra hot water and slipped into that comforting place where I somehow feel secure enough to do my most gut-wrenching crying. I begged for comfort. I asked Dave to help me. I talked to him for a long time and felt nothing but the black hole within. I curled my body up around the terrible emptiness that I feel there. I writhed in that bathtub with a pain too large to contain in one body.

I cried until the headache reached a new height, and got out of the bath like an elderly person, popped 3 Advil and curled up in bed to watch 30 Rock until I could numb myself enough to fall asleep.

No house I look at could ever measure up and it's not because of the physical house I had to give up (although my old house is so unique, that might just be the case!), it's because it was our house.

My bathtub conversation with Dave ended with me telling him that I now have him integrated into my being and that there's no way anyone could be any closer to me than that. I told him that whatever house I live in will be home because I will take him with me into that new dwelling. I told him that I'd continue to work hard to take good care of myself since he is no longer here to do so. I told him that I'd survive to make sure I honor his life. I told him that I'd do it all for him until I could do it for myself, too. I told him I loved him and always would.

Only part of me felt the courage to say those hopeful things and the other part went along with it just in case the power of positive thinking would pull me along with it.

I have definitely lost some of my enthusiasm around house shopping. Some of my courage has evaporated when I think of taking it all on without him.  The whole process has forced me to think even more of how damn vulnerable I am. I am sole caretaker of me. If I don't find a way to support myself, no one will. There is no back-up like there was in my former life.

What that means though, is that I will emerge stronger because of it. I already have and I need to remember that.

I have to remember that losing him has given me a terrible but beautiful gift.

The chance to be truly self-sufficient for the first time in my life, the ability to help others who are walking this path, and the opportunity to choose life.

Just because you're breathing, it doesn't necessarily mean you're living. And I want to be living. Which means that I can't give up.

So, tomorrow I will be looking at houses again. I can do this.


  1. SO many similar feelings 3 years ago when I went house hunting without "my" Dave, frightening and so lonely a feeling. My realtor totally understood and we took it slow and I found "the" house and have made it a home slowly. It is one of many painful tasks to be taken alone but each gives us strenght I hope. I miss my life "before" so bad but feel he is here watching over me and always try to live grateful for having him in my life. Good Luck on your search and thank you for sharing such a private journey.

  2. Oh Cassie, what an honest, painful post. Thank you. I am so sorry for your pain but glad that you were able to have had such a wonderful marriage. Hang in there (it's what I tell myself) and believe that the next chapter also has blessings for you.

  3. Cassie - I started to cry reading your post because the coming in the house grabbing the cat, was me yesterday only it was the dog. Different reason but your bathtub writing - every widow/er knows those moments. The desperation of that grief.
    This: "I told him that I'd survive to make sure I honor his life. I told him that I'd do it all for him until I could do it for myself, too. I told him I loved him and always would."
    Yes - the essence of it all.
    Thank you fro sharing this. Sometimes breathing is all you can do and if you do it long enough, living happens.
    Peace to you.
    I hope today is better.

  4. "I'd do it all for him until I could do it for myself, too."
    "And I want to be living. Which means that I can't give up."

    All of this post resonates with me, as I, too have been looking at houses but these two lines really touched me.

    The idea of finding a home alone has been an experience in itself and I have swayed from looking for something totally different: a small house on a small lot in a neighborhood or simiar but with less land and closer to stuff. And move back to where we lived or several states away closer to family.

    Anyway I like so much of what you wrote here, thanks,

  5. "Just because you're breathing, it doesn't necessarily mean you're living. And I want to be living. Which means that I can't give up."

    Cassie, you will go forward because you have that will to go on and not give up. It may take more time than you want, more looking for that perfect house for you, but each time you go on your quest it will get easier to do. Give yourself the time to make the right choice, you will know when that is. I am being questioned as to why I stay in my house, our all know why, it is/was home, and I've yet to be able to separate myself from it and him and look for another just for me.

    I want to be living , too, I'm just not sure when or if that will happen again. It hasn't gotten any easier, nor do I have the will on many days. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought of how to honor his life, so I take another breath and trudge on.

    Thank you for sharing, you have a gift in your writing. It will all fall into place when you least expect it (at least that's what I tell myself).

  6. Cassie,
    When I read your excitement of looking for a new house, I recall I mentally sent positive vibes your way. I send more now for your healing after the storm of reality hit with your first search. The comfort of kitty fur and hot baths are well known to me and I so long for all of us we still had our husbands' warm arms to keep us from falling down that horrendously deep black hole. And yet, your perseverance and will to move forward to honor Dave and yourself is filled with Light and Hope. I wish you and myself and all widowers more days of light than dark and more days of hope as we continue this journey of healing.

  7. Cassie, you are a brave woman. To be able to share such pain on the web is brave, I think. I want to live too, not just survive every day. Thank you for your honesty and I hope you find "the" house.

  8. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement, everyone. As usual, my incredible widowed community is my rock. My lifesaver.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

  9. Thank you for your honesty Cassie.

    I don't look forward to this time in my near future. It's been almost 2 years since my Dave died, and I know in my heart and mind that it's time to sell my home. It has many wonderful qualities which I will most definitely miss, but there are many aspects that are less than wonderful. I'm thankful that I didn't have to sell it immediately, but it is far too large a house for just me now, it's old and needs constant maintenance, and so it's becoming a large drain in my bank account.

    I definitely needed to be here for the first year as part of my healing, but I'm feeling like now it's becoming a hindrance to my further healing.

    I have much purging and work to do before I can even list my home, but thanks for the heads-up on the black hole that is sure to be waiting for me. I will try to 'prepare' for that and will be sure to keep lots of kleenex on hand.

  10. Thanks, Cassie,
    This also resonated with me and I feel your angst and uncertainty. After almost 2 years, I'm feeling the need to list our home and find a smaller place for myself. But I also recognize that a move will not be a "geographic cure" for the loneliness, and grief that still weighs on me at times. It would have been a fun exciting challenge with him by my side, now a frightening pursuit alone. I pray for strength and direction for all of us facing this change.