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.