Monday, August 5, 2013

Far Away


I dreamed of Dave the other night. He was alive, now. It had all been a trick. He had actually survived the heart failure and somehow I hadn’t known all this time. He was solid and real, but very changed after his near death experience and I was so relieved that he had survived.

The Dave I knew was Mr. Practicality. In his opinion tattoos were pointless and wasteful. Why would anyone want to spend money to have a needled poked into their skin repeatedly and then have to cover the ink up to get a decent job? This practicality was deeply ingrained in him. Spending time philosophizing or discussing emotions or thoughts or dreams was also pointless to him.

In my dream, being on the brink of death had changed him drastically. He had acquired several large, colorful tattoos in the time we'd been apart and he was emotional and philosophical. He spoke of life and what it means and how his view of it was so changed by his NDE.

Even though he wasn’t the Dave I knew, I was more in love with him than ever and couldn’t get enough of him. I felt proud to show him off to everyone. “SEE? He didn’t die, everyone! And he’s so COOL with his tattoos and his complex emotions!” I felt like I had a war hero for a husband. He had just returned from a dangerous call to duty and though he was more complex than before he left, he was still the one I loved. Just changed.

I wonder if this dream actually reflects how much I’ve changed since he died. How much more I risk. How much more I turn inward and try to process my feelings and my thoughts. I’ve been considering a tattoo since Dave died and often think about what it might be. I was always more open to tattoos, being the artist in our marriage and I was always more emotionally open, but I’m so much more so now. I’m not sure if he’d even pick me if he met me now. I’m not sure if we’d have much in common. It’s as though our paths took off in different directions when he died. I did not keep traveling down the road I was traveling with him. I stepped off that road and took a very different one. One that is carrying me farther and farther away from my old life.

A part of me feels a tiny stab of guilt at this. How much did that old life mean to me if I can just abandon it now? 

But it’s not as if that life was easy to abandon. It was just what I needed for survival. Some need to hang on to every detail and keep things just like they were before their spouse died. Some, apparently me, need to start over.

Starting over is scary, even though it’s what I’ve wanted, because it risks walking so far away from the previous life that it fades away into the distance, eventually too far away to see anymore. At least that’s my fear. But, I’m guessing that fear is unfounded. Just because it’s far away, doesn’t mean it’s in danger of disappearing. And things can be far away in space and time, but not in the heart.  I don’t know why there is a drive in me to distance myself from that former life. I know a lot of it comes from realizing just how short life really is and that postponing some of my dreams is riskier than the risk of giving up some stability. But, there is relief for me in not being surrounded by reminders of what I’ve lost. 

I want that life back, but since I can't have what I want I keep moving forward. Toward what, I have no idea.


  1. As always your posts really resonate with me. Its been almost a year for me and I have changed so much and so has my life. This my not be the life I wanted but its the one I've got and I am determined to live it

  2. thank you for this today. 5 weeks and counting until I leave here, the site of our life. I am so different now, way more friendly, far, far less of my old "professional distance." I get that too - how happy could I have been in our old life, if I am so different now? But as you say, it wasn't a choice I got to make. I do feel like, with what I am doing now, the new adventures, I am honoring the spirit of who I was, and who he was. It may look entirely different, but the core is the same.

  3. I had a similar dream where I brought Michael to my family and said, "Look, Michael didn't die! Here he is!" He stood by my side, just smiling, not speaking a word.
    I wanted to say that your post spoke to me. It was so comforting. I feel so guilty that I'm making all these plans for the future. I find no comfort in keeping to the path I was on when my husband was alive. Your question of, "How much did that old life mean to me if I can just abandon it now?" is agonizing. I feel like I can't live the same way I was when Michael was by my side, yet, I resist moving on to a new life. I've been taking the path of MOST resistance and trying to get my life back together. Like you, I don't know where I'm going or how it will be, but I can't stay where I was without my husband.
    Thanks for your heartfelt words.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I am not alone in this feeling of wanting to move forward, to keep living. I can't go back to my life with Eddie, but I can choose to live the life that I have, even if it is very scary starting a fresh.

  5. As Mick sings, "You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes well you might find
    You get what you need."

    "Try" is the key word, I'm still at the I don't give a shit stage. My head tells me I need to move on, but my heart is still grasping for what we had. Does it get any easier with time? I'm thinking not. The finality of it all just becomes more apparent. Wish I had the guts to just do it, but dealing with 2 small business and all they entail is dragging me down. I am making progress, but ever so slow. I admire those of you ahead of me who did things quickly, seems less painful to not drag it all out as I am doing. So many roads, so many choices.

  6. I've had several dreams like that in the past. They are very vivid, very real.

    I know how you'll be two years next month and I look back and boy have I changed. Sometimes I do wonder too if he'd still have fallen for me if he met the ME that I am today. He'd probably find me full of crap because I am so focused on ME now. I'm my #1 priority whereas in the past, everyone else was put above me on my priority list.

    Sometimes I think to myself I have it so much easier now that I'm alone. I don't have to deal with running to the hospital, caregiving for a sick man, having to emotionally support his family through his illness. I can do what I want, when I want, how I want, and I don't need to answer to anyone.

    But then there are moments where I find myself hitting a wall and wishing I had that person in my life to lean on, to talk to and to help me out when the going gets tough. Right now I am going through a situation with my mother and I just don't know how to face it and deal with it. I don't know where to start. He'd be able to take a step back and say "OK this is how it's going to be done." And it just tears my heart apart inside.

    But all I can do is focus on moving forward and continue learning how to do things as ME and me only.

  7. Love this! I too, have changed tremendously and wonder what my husband would think of this "new" woman; in many ways, she is the same woman he knew, but with his death, I have had to let her out of the closet. I have had to find my public voice, express my own opinions, ask for help and even share my sense of humor. Thanks so much for sharing

  8. I love this post...thanks for putting in words the struggle in re-creating our new life path...that we don't want to do but we have to so to survive in our new life.
    I read somewhere in my many readings on grief that 1. It is too painful to look back at what was once was...2. It is too agonizing to stay in the now which is Grief and 3. It is unbearable to move on WITHOUT our loved one because we do not want to leave our departed loved ones behind...No wonder this widow stuff is so HARD!!
    This post puts into words how to do 3....and that it is possible to deal with the unbearable...
    I just have to figure out when to do this and how to muster the courage to take that 1st step.

  9. I have had similar dreams as well where I know he has passed away, but for some reason I end up back in the hospital and when I find him he is either still alive or he has come back to life. Then, him and I talk about it and I tell him everything that happened since we thought he passed away. I enjoy dreams where we talk to each other. As far as identity goes, right now I am struggling to find out who I am without him.