Friday, January 17, 2014

Talking to the Echo


There is a space where my husband’s voice once lived,
a big empty hole that sits in the center of my hours,
my days,
my years.
It mocks me by following me wherever I go,
And it feeds off of it’s own nothingness,
Sipping on the hollow void,
A cruel silence where there used to be sound.

It follows me everywhere,
But it is most cruel whenever I try to be my creative self.
I can write something,
Perform something,
Shape something,
And in that creative process,
I still look into the air, thin as a wafer,
And ask my husband,
“How does this sound?”,
Or
“What do you think of this, Boo?”
There is a pause that lasts ten thousand years,
And then nothing.

Where he used to help me write,
And add his humor to my scripts,
There is nothing.

Where he used to sit in the crowd,
And clap loudly,
His big and wonderful laugh,
Being heard above all the others,
There is nothing.

Where he met me after the show,
Outside of the club or the theater,
Sometimes with flowers or cards in his hand,
Wearing his pride for me in the pupils of his eye,
Saying, “I’m so proud of you, Boo”,
Twirling and hugging and holding my hand,
There is nothing.


I can fight the nothing
With the opinions of other caring people
In my life.
My parents, my friends, my counselor.
Sometimes that helps.
But most times,
Try as they do,
They do not respond in the way that I am searching for,
In the way that I long for and need,
Or they arent always there,
At the ready,
Waiting to be the response
to words
that I speak.
That is what a partner does.
Partners are there,
And they say the thing that you long to hear,
And they make your ideas shine,
And they put the period on the sentence,
Or they suggest that maybe it needed a comma,
Instead.

The nothingness where my husband used to be,
Causes me to feel so much jealousy,
When I am forced in a room with couples,
With marriage or long-term partnerships,
And when I hear the literal words
Of a wife saying to her husband,
“Honey, what do you think of this?”
It is like a slow stab,
And it pierces my insides,
Silently,
While nobody notices.
And it hurts.
Oh boy, does it hurt,
To witness the simple thing,
Of somebody saying words,
And somebody saying words back.

The nothingness where my husband used to be,
Makes me needy,
Much more needy,
than I ever thought I would be,
than I ever wanted to be.
When I write blog posts,
like this one,
I need to hear and read the comments,
Or I feel worthless,
Like I am talking to that thin air,
Or talking to myself
Again and again,
And again.
My constant status updates,
On Facebook,
are a helpless and desperate plea,
to seek out connection,
and fill the gaping wound,
that cries,
in that space,
where my husband used to be.

It is almost like,
I need to fill that space,
With 200 comments,
A thousand voices,
To make up for that one voice,
I can never hear again.
And since none of those voices,
Are his voice,
And none of those people,
Are him,
It does not fulfill,
What I need fulfilled.
It helps.
It helps in the same way,
That throwing a raisin into a manhole
Would help to fill the space
Of that manhole.

But it hurts.
Oh boy, does it hurt,
Because nobody is him,
Nobody ever will be him,
Not ever again.

And I try to remind myself,
Or ask myself,
In those moments,
“What would Don say?”,
Or I will attempt
To hear him
And listen for his voice,
There to complete my sentence.
But there is no sound.
No feeling.
No hint of his essence.
And with each new moment of silence,
The memory of what he might say,
Becomes less certain,
And it drifts away in a rowboat,
Leaving me at the shore.

There is a space,
Where my husband’s voice
Once lived.
I cannot stare at it,
Or find it,
Because it is all around me,
But I feel it.
I feel the nothingness,
And this is why,
I am terrified of finishing things,
Of things ending.
Like when this book is finally written,
Printed,
Published,
And a box of them is sent to my door,
And I open the box,
And it is filled with my dreams.
Books that I can look at,
And touch,
And know that the words inside are mine,
And the stories inside are mine,
And I will look into that thin air,
And say out loud
To the nothing,
“Aren't you proud of me, Boo?”

And yes,
I know he is proud,
But that is not the same,
As hearing him say it,
And instead,
Hearing the loud roar of silence,
That comes just seconds,
After my own shallow voice,
In a room filled with people,
Or alone,
Always alone,
Talking to the Echo.

(pulled from my personal blog, written a few days ago.) 


34 comments:

  1. O my Word!
    This made me cry, I feel exactly the same
    Thanks

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  2. So beautifully said Kelley, alone...

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  3. exactly! thank you for this.

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  4. I'm crying because you have touched a very vulnerable spot in me. I, too, talk with Wes, asking him what he thinks of the garden and the veggies I'm growing. (That's where I express much of my creativity.) I listen for his response and I know what he would say if he were here, but I would so like to hear his voice, too. And I find myself filling the silence when I am alone with obsessive thoughts and pleadings to him and other people who--from past experience--I know are not going to be responsive. I wonder if I will ever reach a place where I can be alone without feeling excruciatingly lonely. I've friends and people who care, but they are not with me 24/7. Nor do I believe they should be. I've reached inside and I have not yet found my own core to sustain myself as an individual, no longer a partner.

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  5. OMG, how did you manage to put into words all that I feel and exactly how I felt this morning when waking up to an empty bed; a bed that hasn't had my husband beside me for 2-1/2 years? The bed where the love of my life died suddenly beside me? Upon waking this morning, I called his name, even after 2-1/2 years of waking alone, begging him to respond, begging him to come back to me. How many tears do I have inside me and how many tears will continue to fall and fill the rest of my lifetime without the other half of me?

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  6. OMG! So sad but so true for all of us widows! How we long for our mate all hours of the day & night. How we wish to hear their voice, a hug or a kiss goodnight. I always have the comment but he is still with you. Yes, maybe he is but, I can not see him, hear him or touch him. And, that is what I wish for every minute.

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  7. Wow. Thank you for writing this entry today. As I've said several time in response to different posts, I do get it and it's good to know that other people get it too. My husband passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012 from a Pulmonary Embolism when our daughters were only 29 & 15.

    We had just celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary by being able to go on a trip to Hawaii where my husband (a Journalist) spoke at a national convention. So needless to say, last Christmas sucked. I was determined to make this Christmas better, and I did, as far as the girls and I go. We went to the Christmas Eve 11:00 service at our church, I was able to get each girl exactly what they wanted for Christmas (older one-Pearl Necklace) and (Younger one-lens for her camera). I told them that the gifts were from their dad and I. My mom helped me clean up the house the week before Christmas, so we had a steady stream of the girl's friends drop by and in the middle of all this, my oldest daughter "temporarily" fostered a puppy so it wouldn't be put to sleep at a local animal shelter. So the atmosphere felt cheerier and better.

    But if you took a closer look, there was still something missing. My husband always put up our tree (the last several years an artificial tree with white lights already on it). So this year when I put it up, the lights in the middle didn't work. I only got about 6 or 7 ornaments on the tree, and even though my tall teenage boy neighbor helped me hang the garland outside over the door frame, one of the light bulbs was burned out! We had a great Christmas dinner with my family even though my niece's two boys (ages 4 and 6) were sick with a cold, I found out later they had the flu and I ended up in the ER two days after Christmas will flu symptoms. And there is the ongoing struggle with my SIL over trust fund money for my two daughters.

    So I just have to accept that I can move on, but there will always be something missing - my husband.

    But our youngest daughter and I are planning a trip to CA in February to visit dear friends and also see a couple of shows. We will be there on my husband's birthday so I'm glad we going to be with friends who remember him.

    Sorry this post is so long. I'll be thinking of you Kelley.

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    1. Whoops! I didn't realize I put in the wrong age for my oldest daughter. She was 19, not 29, when her dad passed away suddenly. Which also happened to be on the last day of classes during her freshman year in college.

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    2. Leslie, thanks for sharing some of your story. I think your trip to Cali will be healing and will be a good way to spend your husbands birthday ... xoxo.

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  8. Being 10 months in to my after and just starting my busy work season, I can relate to this soooooo much. That silence and emptiness is the worst and seeking the approval of others is futile. This partnership and lack there of is so hard to explain. You did it beautifully. Thank you.

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    1. Yeah,it all seems rather pointless when theres nobody there to share in your day , nobody to respond .... xo.

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  9. Perfectly said. Coming on two years for me, your words are exactly how I feel.

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  10. Oh Kelley I wish I could make it better for you, for all of us, for me but the pain burns like a slow candle, at its own pace, flaring up at the slightest breeze. I'm so tired of pretending I'm fine but I've found no one who wants to hear that I wake up most days in a panic and cry for Nigel three years down the line. Surely if I cry enough someone will bring him home --- no thought not.

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  11. Thank you for putting words to what I have felt the last nineteen months. I live in fear that one day I will not remember what his voice sounds like. I miss him so much.

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    1. I understand that Anon. I have the same fear, and I dont have a lot of video and NO audio with his voice on it. I still cant bring myself to watch our wedding video, too painful. Maybe one day. When I did put the video on one time for a few seconds, his voice sounded almost foreign to me. Its almost like its clearer in my mind than when I actually hear it, it sounds very far away . Makes me very sad.

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  12. Ill join in similar commenting: yes, this is exactly how I feel and what I think. I thought I was weird for posting so much to fb, but I think you've nailed it here. I do it coz I feel like I need validation, that I'm speaking, and someone hears me; but there is never the response I want, the one from my husband.

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    1. Yes. Validation that you are speaking. Thats exactly it. xxo..

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  13. Wow, beautifully written and felt, thank you!

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  14. 7 years out and you described what I could not with "a silent stab".
    I mostly fill it after I leave movie night with friends and they are all discussing the movie or when couples at church scoot a little closer and he puts his arm around her shoulders, etc. OUCH!

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  15. Thank you for each and every one of these comments. You have all made me feel VALIDATED and HEARD!!!! And I hear YOU too!!! Thank you!!!

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  16. It would take a long reply to mention all the lines of your post, Kelley, that resonated with me. And I'm so relieved to know, both from the post and all the replies, that these feelings of being alone, of desperately missing my husband are shared.

    Not long after Steve died - over 3 years ago now - my stepdaughter told me - quite emphatically - that I was not alone. I appreciated the sentiment, and I'm glad to have my stepchildren, other relatives, and friends in my life. But it simply is not the same as my relationship with my husband, nor does it fill the space. Not even close.

    So thank you - and all those who replied - for this. It helps.

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  17. Thank you so very much, Kelley. I am 26 months out but some days it still feels like only yesterday. Your words resonated so much with me (and it seems like a lot of us). My kind hearted friends want me to come to their 'couple-y' events because they think they are helping me...but my heart tears in two each and every time one of them turns to the other with that look, or touch, or comment...and the ache is there again...still. Thank you for your beautiful, touching, elegant, truthful post!

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  18. Sunday was four years since I lost my husband. This poem says so much about the need for connection that I feel it's as if you were looking at my own desperate Facebook posts for the past week.

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  19. Beautifully said. I feel the exact same way and my husbands name was Don too. Being a widow is a lonely life in an unlonly world.

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  20. 2 1/2 years later for me, and the silence is still deafening. I've raised our daughter without him (she was only 9 weeks old when he was killed), and I long to tell him the stories about the hilarious antics she gets into as a toddler. But when I tell him the stories, it's not his contagious laugh that I hear back, it's the suffocating silence. This was truly written from the heart, and it really made me feel like I was reading a little excerpt from my own journal....Thank you for sharing.

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  21. You captured the essence of so many hearts, thank you...your artistry is a gift. I am sorry the joy of seeing it's beauty is no longer reflected in the eyes of your husband, truly sorry. xoxo

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  22. Thank you for validating feelings that I could not put into words.

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  23. You put into words what so many do not understand. Dealing with the emptiness and finding new ways to live meaningfully, purposefully, is so hard. I lost my husband of 20 years some 26 months ago. The worst is when I dream he is with me in bed and I wake up to the emptiness next to me. I switched to sleeping on his side so that I would not look over at "his" side expecting to see him.

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  24. wesibee February 7th
    I think what you have written Kelly Lyn is profound and deeply felt. Beautifully written as well. But I also want to tell you from my heart that the emptiness can be bridged. I have been able to make a break through in the silence to hear my love speak. I have seen a vision of him, and heard him speak when I had been verbally assaulted about my grief. I was trembling and shaking, heart racing from the shock.I went to bed awoke at 5 am to hear a beeping sound and then my husband's voice saying my name and then darling I am so concerned about you. He came to me knowing how much pain I was in. As time has gone on I kept talking to him and we began to sit down regularly and talk about many things. I have just finished a talk this evening - also some profound stuff in it. His sister has also seen two visions of him. I have found that when I speak with him I do feel at peace, that this is where I belong, not stressed out and exhausted. Other things have occurred too that tells me he is alive. I have written a blog on widowed village re one of these talks done in September 2013. It seems that our beloved can find it difficult to know how to be with us.
    But we can sing to them, talk to their photo, etc and build up an energy which becomes very powerful. This is not using a medium it is using our love for them, plus the help of God. I ask that you be blessed and find it possible for your words to be answered. That there is no longer a silence but the warm voice of the one you love.

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  25. wesibee February 7th
    I think what you have written Kelly Lyn is profound and deeply felt. Beautifully written as well. But I also want to tell you from my heart that the emptiness can be bridged. I have been able to make a break through in the silence to hear my love speak. I have seen a vision of him, and heard him speak when I had been verbally assaulted about my grief. I was trembling and shaking, heart racing from the shock.I went to bed awoke at 5 am to hear a beeping sound and then my husband's voice saying my name and then darling I am so concerned about you. He came to me knowing how much pain I was in. As time has gone on I kept talking to him and we began to sit down regularly and talk about many things. I have just finished a talk this evening - also some profound stuff in it. His sister has also seen two visions of him. I have found that when I speak with him I do feel at peace, that this is where I belong, not stressed out and exhausted. Other things have occurred too that tells me he is alive. I have written a blog on widowed village re one of these talks done in September 2013. It seems that our beloved can find it difficult to know how to be with us.
    But we can sing to them, talk to their photo, etc and build up an energy which becomes very powerful. This is not using a medium it is using our love for them, plus the help of God. I ask that you be blessed and find it possible for your words to be answered. That there is no longer a silence but the warm voice of the one you love.

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  26. Thank you Kelly for “Talking to the Echo.”
    Your words speak very well to a broken heart.
    You did an excellent job arranging your words to acknowledge how many of us, feel.
    At first, reading your excerpt from your blog, was tearful and painful. Perhaps it is because the words describe the frustration that exists when we are constantly searching to hear “that voice” speak to us…..to really hear that voice.
    The comfort is…… knowing I am not alone in a journey that has wants and needs that can no longer be filled by that one special person.
    If you walked into the room this moment, I would very much like to say more than thank you. Consider yourself “hugged.”

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    1. Wow august, and EVERYONE, all of these many comments make me so happy and you are all so very sweet. Thank you all so very much for reading this and for understanding. xoxo.

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  27. Again, 'exactly' the way I feel too.

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