Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Dave

Dear Dave,
I just finished looking through our pictures again. Sometimes, fearing I've imagined my former life, I need proof that it all really happened.  Italy, our house rehab, Hawaii, Yellowstone, the hundreds of pics you took of your beloved students scrolled before my eyes. I sobbed and sobbed, scaring the cat with the sounds of my heart breaking, and what I really wanted to do, what I wish I could do, was smash everything in the room to pieces.

I wanted to feel my fist connect with glass and hear it shatter, with the drywall and feel it crumble under my fist. I wanted to throw the computer to the ground and stomp on it until it’s in countless pieces. I wanted to scream and scream and scream.

There was our life…all of it. Our home, our cats, our trips, our jobs, our love. There it was in pictures. All of it gone. What acceptable response to seeing that could there be, if not destroying something? What other way could I truly relieve this fury at the senselessness of your loss? What am I supposed to do with this anger? With this missing you? What do I do now? What do I do with it?

Do I keep feeling it and let it take me down? Do I push it away and act strong so no one has to hear me say yet again how sad I am? How shocked I am that this happened? So no one has to know that nearly 2.5 years later, I’m still brokenhearted and completely stunned that you’re gone?

I scrolled through our thousands of pictures until I got to June 3, 2011. On that day there were two pictures. They were both of the bag that collected your pee while you lay in that hospital bed at St. Pete’s Hospital.  You wanted to see the amount of pee in it to track your progress (your kidneys were shutting down, but we didn't realize it).

So you asked me to take a picture since you couldn’t get out of bed to see the bag. And then you sent a pic of the pee bag to some friends to make them laugh. Those pics were taken a matter of hours before they took you, the next day, away from me and sent you to Harborview Hospital.

You didn’t make it there alive, really. I never saw you conscious again. They said they’d gotten you stable, but then they lost you anyway. For a moment I thought maybe they could take it back. They could fix you.

I left you there.

Can you forgive me? I left your poor battered body in that fucking hospital room and I didn’t even go back in to see you or touch you.

Please forgive me. God, I’m so sorry.

The next photo was the only one taken on June 4, 2011 and eerily, it is completely black. A picture of nothing. So apt. On that day, the life I knew was snuffed out. Gone.
The following pictures, if they featured me, show the evidence of the darkness that had seeped into my eyes. I am not me. I am the outer shell of me, but I cannot find me in the eyes in those sockets that look like mine. It scares me to see those eyes.
Where did I go? Where did you go?
We had so much to do together. I’ve pushed myself to move on in my life, to not stop in my tracks or go backwards to be with you, but I’ve resisted it. When I do step into the current of life and it drags me ahead, I look back for you, but you’re fading and shrinking. I can no longer recall your smell. It’s so hard to remember your voice.

So little physically remains of our life together. It’s mainly just pictures now. I stare so closely at the pictures. I stare at your wedding ring. I stare at your eyes. I stare at your shirt and your jacket. I stare at your beard. I think maybe if I stare long enough. If I can see, like x-ray vision, through the computer, and into the picture itself, into the pixels, I’ll find you there. I’ll feel you again. I’ll hear you tell me it’ll all be okay. I’ll feel that safe again, like I did when you were here.
But you are not there, even amongst the pixels. You are not here. You left. And I am here. What am I to do with this? What happens to 15 years of my life? They’re just pictures now? That’s it? Pictures? It’s ridiculous. I don’t believe it. There must be some mistake.

 And, then I have to get up from the computer and go about my day and it crashes down on me for the millionth time. This is my life now. It's not a mistake. You did die. I will live out the rest of my life without you.

My heart is broken. Sometimes I feel hopeful and sometimes I don't want to go on without you. Sometimes I can embrace the idea that I was so lucky to have had 15 years with you and other times I'm so jealous of couples who've had more that I hate them. Some days I still want to curl up in bed and give up.

Some days I think I can take on the world. But every day, every moment, I miss you and our life together. That never changes.You gave me the family I never had and always wished for. I know you didn't want to go. I know you'd be here if you could. I know you can't come back. I know it wouldn't be honoring you to give up.

I won't. I love you. You changed my life.


  1. Cassie, because of the tears, I can barely see my computer screen as I type this. You put into words everything that I feel as well. My husband, Rich, died of a heart attack next to me at 3:11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Your heartache and the devastation of your life began a few days before mine in 2011. I am 27 months into this journey into hellish grief where I am trying to exist without the love of my life beside me. Rich and I spent 16 years together; 11 years married. We met on a Friday night and we were together until the night he died beside me. The love of my life is gone and there will be no other. I lay in bed and ask him where he is and I beg him to come back to me even if only in my dreams. I beg him to make love to me in my dreams. God, please give me just that. My life as I knew it died on June 21, 2011. My family and friends don't want to hear about my loss and the pain that I live with 24/7. I'm told to move on; to put it behind me; to begin my new life, bla, bla, bla. I'm told how good I look and how fortunate that Rich didn't suffer. All I know is that I'm living with the other half of me gone and with the constant pain of living without the love of my life. Where do I go from here and how do I grow old alone? I, too, look at our pictures and wonder if that was a dream; where are you my love?

  2. OMG! I feel like you do! Sometimes I feel ashamed that I still hurt as much as I do at 1 year and 6 months. Thank you for pouring out your heart and helping me to realize that what I feel is totally normal in this horrific grief journey. I will NEVER stop missing my love, never. I'm like you, one day I am thankful for the 23 years we had together, other days I can't understand why we couldn't have 50 years. But I am sad, all the time. It is like a backpack I wear, always heavy, and I always carry it around with me in everything I do. Hang in there Cassie and thank you again.

  3. I saw so much of what I went/am going through in this posting (and subsequent comments). It is somewhat comforting (in a weird way) to know I am not alone (and going crazy, dragging things on, etc. ...). None of us would chose this journey through hell, but it has been thrust upon us (and that makes me mad too - what did I do to deserve to have the love of my life taken away so soon after we just found each other!). I go to bed every night saying G' Night to my loved one and wake up in the morning thinking - Damn it, I woke up and have to face another day alone... Often I wish my life would, as is referenced in the note above about pictures of blackness, that my life would just "fade to black". I am having such a difficulty in finding a purpose to my life (I should mention that I lost my executive job due to "cutbacks" the same week as I lost my partner, and then his family turned their backs on me - we were in a same/sex relationship of which they didn't approve - they are totally denying that we even lived together as they take over and settle his estate). There is no joy in my life, I know I can't live in, nor for, the past, but it is so hard to look into the future alone...

  4. I find it so very hard to view photos in my before life, I end up crying as you did, and wanting that old life back as well. It is not to be. I will miss and love him always.

    I don't think you need to ask Dave for forgiveness for not returning to see or touch him. He was not there any more, and he knows how hard that would have been for you. The funeral home where my husband was taken kept asking "don't you want to see him one more time before he is cremated?". My daughter, bro in law and I kept saying "no" in unison. I needed no more reminders that he was dead, needed no more images of him laying there lifeless to come back and haunt my dreams. I want to remember him alive and well, and so I do.

    Think back to the early months without Dave, and look where you're at now. Some days you have hope for a future; that is progress. It doesn't happen overnight; as we all know, it takes whatever time it takes, years longer than I ever anticipated. I so admire you and those ahead of me who write how it truly is on a day to day basis. I wouldn't be where I am today w/o this connection. Thank you so very much.

    1. You're right. And the reminder is always so appreciated. I know there really isn't anything to feel guilty about and I know he was truly gone and NOT in that hospital anymore, but when I'm really weakened by grief, I almost always go back to that place of feeling like I let him down somehow, abandoning his body there and leaving him behind. It's horrible.
      I'm so relieved to hear that this blog helps you.

  5. Thank you so much for the beautiful post. Every word is how I feel. My husband died of a heart attack on January 5, 2013.

    1. I am so very sorry for your loss but I'm glad you've come here.

  6. You have managed to say everything I am feeling too. I hate that we have to feel this way. It's not fair. My husband died at the tender age of 30 on August 6, 2013. Thank you for sharing this, and making me feel somewhat less alone in my crazy feelings.

  7. This is my life also! It's been 33 months and I still cry every single day at some point. Not being able to get my breath when it comes over me that he's really gone and NOT coming back and all of our plans for the future are gone. I'm so tired of being sad. I too am thankful for the 40 years we had but would have liked to have more. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

  8. Cassie...this is EXACTLY how I feel...and even though I may share this with others in hopes they will "get it"...they really don't....I use to be like that too.
    I am soooo grateful for this site...We need each other.

  9. OMG, Cassie. *tears* no words.

  10. I too lost my husband, almost 4 months ago. We were married for 35 years. He had a stroke and never recovered. He was older that I, but otherwise, he was in good health, nothing else wrong with him. So it was very heart breaking. My whole world as I know it has been shattered. He was my everything, now there are no plans, no expectations, no happiness in the home or love in my life. I am trying to stay strong. I feel the same way and Cassie. Some days are better than others, and then sometimes I feel guilty because I may have gone a few hours without thinking of him. I was always a happy person, now I sad all the time, and I hate it! We were so good together, and I am happy for all we had, some people never find what we had in their lifetime. I feel as if part of me has died, cutoff, gone forever, and now I have to rediscover myself, and I don't what this at this stage of my life. I also realize that I am left among the land of the living, and somehow must find the strength to continue without him present in my life, but always there in my heart and memories. I know he would want this. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I it comforting to know there are others out there who feel the same way.

  11. Two weeks from "three years" I feel this so much. Sometimes I just say to myself "he died" just to hear it aloud to make it real, other times I look at his picture and say he lived - he lived and we loved each other for 36 years. I still can't believe I am here alone. I don't know if I will ever believe it. I make myself live because he wanted me to but it is not the same. I have found I can be happy but not happy like before - happy knowing that he is dead. Which is a different happy. A very muted one, the spontaneity is gone. Laughter doesn't bubble up from me anymore. I am less than what I was when he was alive. But I am still alive. I didn't know at three years I would still be checking in here. But I am so glad I found you. I don't know if I would have made it this far. Thank you.