Monday, October 1, 2012

Feeling Him


I went to a masseuse the other day.

When I got there, she sat down in front of me, looked me in the eye and said "So what's going on with you?"

I told her that I'd recently gone through one of the most stressful things a human could experience and that my husband died and now I was rebuilding my entire life and how I don't know what to do with myself now. I explained how the strain manifests itself in tight and painful neck muscles and headaches. 

She said she was sorry for my loss and we got on with the massage. She asked me if it was okay if she told me if she "saw things". I immediately knew what was up. I thought this woman believes she can see "beyond" and/or could see through her hands to my innermost pain and "read me". I didn't hesitate. I was hoping she'd offer this, somehow. 

"Yes. Tell me everything you see," I said. 

A few seconds into the massage, with me face down on her table, she said "What was your husband's name?” 

When the sounds that make up the word "Dave" came out of my mouth I could hear the reverence, pain and anguish in my own voice and tears instantly rushed to my eyes. I miss you I miss you I miss you I miss you I miss you my heart screamed. 

Being face down, I wanted to avoid crying too much because I knew that if I did, the snot and tears would just instantly collect in my sinuses and stuff me up so much that I'd be mouth breathing for the rest of the day. 

I held it together until she said "Do you feel him around you?" 

My throat completely closed up as the sobs welled up in my gut. I couldn't answer her right away. 
The fact that I don't feel him around me is one  so painful that I can barely talk about it. There is nothing I want more than to feel his presence. Nothing. I talk to him. I beg him to visit me. I beg the Universe to give me the comfort of his presence, even for a moment. 

The fact that it doesn't happen is torturous to me. I tell myself that it's hard for energy to communicate with those of us still in bodies. I tell myself that I'm not ready. That I'm somehow subconsciously not allowing the experience. Somehow, I speculate, I might be so trained not to believe that I've discounted the subtle signs before I can even truly see them. 

All of this went through my mind as I cried on that massage table. The masseuse said "You're not sure, are you? You're conflicted about feeling him?" 

I nodded my head yes as I began to bawl in earnest. 

"Well, he's with you. Always. He's just energy. Energy doesn't die. Einstein taught us that. Once you've connected with a loved one like you did with him, they never leave you. He's right here," at this, she gently brushed her hand down the middle of my spine, from the nape of my neck to the middle of my back. 

"His head is here" she said, touching the back of my neck.

"He's very gentle" she said. "He's just so gentle with you and he wants you to do whatever makes you happy. He just wants you to be happy."

At this point I was crying so hard that all I could do was nod as snot ran out of my nose to the floor. 
I didn't tell her what I instantly thought of. I didn't tell her that when Dave was alive, one of his favorite things to do was to find me lying on my stomach and lie down on top of me, face down. I'd always affectionately complain that he was suffocating me, but really, it was soothing to be pressed down by the weight of him and completely warmed by his body, head to toe. Once we even fell asleep like this, and woke up much later, stiff and with multiple limbs that had fallen asleep too.

So I felt comforted and sure of his presence and skipped off to enjoy the rest of the day knowing my Dave can still make himself known to me. Yay!

Um. No. Didn't happen that way. It's not that it didn't feel good to hear the things she said. It's not that I don't believe. It's more like I don't feel much of anything either way.  I'm not disbelieving her or the experience. I feel like it's absolutely possible to feel him again, somehow. I feel like it's possible she really sensed something. I just don't FEEL it inside me to be absolutely true. Nothing felt assured or doubt-free. I don't feel much of anything other than the loss, the missing, the Dave-shaped hole in me, and the utter frustration that we were pulled apart so early. 

I’m glad I went. I’m glad she told me what she did. I’ll take it all in and allow myself to get whatever comfort from it that I can. It was a beautiful moment and an amazing sentiment. 

Maybe I’m just impossible to satisfy because what I want, what I need, is HIM. Not his memory or a sense of him. I want HIM and everything else is a pale and unsatisfying substitute.
Maybe it’s the fact that even with his energy around me, I’m still alone. He’s not here to do the practical things a partner does, or provide the emotional support he provided, or be my one and only, my Most Important Person. He’s not here to text me how smart he thinks I am or that he can’t wait until I get home. 

He’s not here to chauffeur me around because I get so sleepy when I drive, or to surprise me with elaborate and thoughtful gifts. He’s not here to lie next to me in bed, his solid presence allowing me to fully relax and sleep through anything. He’s not here to tell me that the coffee I make him every morning is the best he’s ever had. He’s not here to tell me that he was so lucky to have found me, or wrap me up in his arms when I get home.

 He’s not here. And that is a frustration that hasn’t eased much yet. If anything it’s more obvious now that I’m spending more and more time alone and have to make more and more decisions without him as I venture farther down the road of this journey without him.

Of course, he wants me to be happy. Of that I have no doubt. But I’m not yet sure how to be happy when he’s not on this planet with me. I’m not yet sure how to make a life without him. I never thought I’d be doing this and I don’t know how. 

And there you have it. No one knows how to do it and no one knows what the future will bring them. In the same way that I never imagined I’d be here, today, I can’t imagine where I’ll be in the next few years, what joys are out there for me, what tragedies. We just don’t know. And we all have to learn things the hard way. I’ve just had a lot of learning to do and I’m really, really tired from all the learning. 

I still will work hard at being happy because it’s what he’d want. I’ll do it for him, of course. But damn it’s hard.


  1. Cassie, just yesterday I said to my brother in law that I never ever thought I'd be a widow so soon, and dealing with all the crap that goes with it. It never crossed my mind that my husband would not be least not for many years. I do believe he is in a better place than I, he also believed in Einstein's theory that energy cannot be destroyed. That gives me peace somedays, to realize he is always around me. But no, he is not here physically, and that just is so hard to deal with. He's not coming home.

    Happiness? I hate to say and think it, but I believe it will take years to feel somewhat happy again. And it will never be the same after going through this loss, knowing that can and will happen again to those around us whom we love. I try not to look too far ahead, it just gives me one more thing to worry about. I'm dealing with only today, it's hard enough.

    Take care of you, and thanks for sharing where you're at, many of us are with you.

  2. I'm in my fourth year, and I don't "feel" my husband with me. Missing him seems to be amplified by time, not diminished. I relate to everything you wrote here, Cassie. Thank you. I've never believed in mediums, and I've never gone to see one. If my husband could see how I've suffered without him, it would be painful for him - if there's one thing I believe, it's that there is no more pain for those who have died - only for the ones left behind.

  3. I'm only on my 4th month -
    I still feel that crushing sadness that makes me want to throw up. The tears that sometime come that can only be satisfied with some kind of primal keening. JUST to get the pain out.

    I hope to be happy someday. I hope the colors will be brighter and the music a little clearer. Right now I go through the day. Doing what I need to do, because I need to do it. What I want to do is curl up next to him and have his arm around me and drift off to sleep....just one last time...
    I don't feel him, I haven't seen him. I hear his laughter when I do something stupid, tho.
    I just miss him to very very much and there's a part of me that wants him here, sick just so *I* have him.

  4. Dear Cassie
    Such truthful words; words that once again, I could have written. You so eloquently describe so many of the things that I miss so badly - the text messages, the gifts, the wonder, someone wondering when I'm coming home, someone sleeping next to me, the thoughts, the knowledge that at least one person thinks I'm cool and is crazy about me, someone interested in the details of my life. That's what my husband did for me. You use the words "He's not here" and I use the word "Without" to describe what you write about. My life is so without.......
    I have been having massages for the past 19 months since Marty died. My massage therapist knew him, massaged him and even came to his funeral. She is a wonderful woman with very strong hands. With the first massage I bawled deeply when she left the room - gosh it hurt; I was having hour massages once monthly; then one day I found out the 90 minute massage was only $10 extra so I started having 90 minute massages....and then every three weeks....and now every other week! Such the healing power of touch. I so miss touch. Really miss it. Obviously, a massage does not replace the intimate touches that husband and wife share (and that nobody "really" talks about in grief group or most grief books); but the massage does provide deep pressure touch and an all around wonderful feeling to my body and my bones and my skin; it is a way of caring for myself and I know that it is helping me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
    I am blessed that I can sense my husbands presence and have since day 2 when he told me not to be a "cheapass" over some decision about the funeral reception.....that was the beginning of it. I can sense his presence in my heart, mostly because we were together for almost 32 years and know deep down how he would respond to something and many times what he would say. We have started these things called "Dadisms" or "Martyisms"...they are part of his legacy. Is it enough - NO WAY! But it is all I have.
    I am headed to DIsney world with my adult kids and grand kids.....not sure I was brilliant in planning this trip, because the void is the hugest when we're all together, but I have hope that Marty will be there too, in the way that Marty will be. I too don't believe those in heaven can see the pain and suffering of those on earth bc otherwise it wouldn't be too heavenly, but I do believe that our loved ones live on in us, in our hearts.

  5. so very very tired from all the learning.

  6. My heart goes out to all of you. It's been 12 years, yes years, since my husband died suddenly. Even though I'm remarried, I still miss my husband and think of him everyday. I remember yelling and screaming at God in those early months, pleading with him to let me have just a few minutes with John.

    The "crushing sadness" Sue describes has softened over time, and the memories have carried me forward. The forward movement is not always a straight path, but eventually life gets better, even though it's not the same. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal.

  7. Thank you - you put into words so eloquently with I feel in my heart every minute of every day. Glad to know I'm not alone on this grief walk.

  8. This says exactly what we've been talking about on our grief forum, it expresses so aptly all that we are feeling and experiencing. It's been seven years for me, and I've accepted my being alone, but that has never stopped the missing him, for all of the reasons described above and many more.

  9. This says exactly what we've been talking about on our grief forum, it expresses so aptly all that we are feeling and experiencing. It's been seven years for me, and I've accepted my being alone, but that has never stopped the missing him, for all of the reasons described above and many more.

  10. I often feel so alone in the path of disbelief, thinking most other widows wither cling to religious dogma to make some sense of what has happened or choose to not ask questions and just accept death as a fact. When you talk about how you cannot feel him, that you think you are not open to the experience, the begging him and the universe to visit you and talking to them I can totally read myself in the lines.
    To be honest with you, feeling like the only person who couldn't conform to a religious resolution or unabe to just stop asking questions made me feel like I was never going to make it out of this. So many times when I get caught up in those thoughts I feel like there's no fucking point and that I can't live on like that.
    But now there's you through this post, and now I know that though it's not easy maybe it's not impossible. As I write this I am fighting the tears away, of sadness, of loss, of gratefulness, of comfort. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Anonymous said...
    Cassie and all others who commented with their heartfelt grief on their sleeve...THANK YOU for sharing this, it helps to know we are not alone on this road. For me it's been a year of the inner most pain and anguish all the while trying to continue putting on that happy face to function and continue working and making all the decisions alone. I know what you mean...I'm tired from all the learning also. As hard as I try to feel his presence, it hasn't really happened for me either - mostly trying to keep positive for my young adult children who also hurt. I've had this man since I was 18 yrs. old - not sure exactly how to keep this all together without him but I know I can and will somehow. And...who knows I may go and have my first massage...thanks again.

    October 7, 2012 7:15 PM