“The heart was meant to be broken.” —Oscar Wilde
As I tried to process my husband’s death, my professional life was crashing before me. It became harder to finish assignments for my post-masters program, and eventually several items became overdue. It didn’t take long before I realized I just couldn’t do it. It was hard enough enduring my third year teaching in Compton. The added task of not just finishing, but also being successful at school was too much. In that moment, I felt I had no choice but to give up. To this day I still regret that decision.
Adding to my professional frustrations, a former friend of mine posted about my husband’s death on social media without talking to me first. Soon my dead husband’s friends, some from the far corners of China, bombarded me with posts asking what happened. I don’t think anyone even thought to ask me if I was ok. If people I’ve never me before thought I would provide a play-by-play of his death over social media, they must be absolutely cray. After the fact, and in an almost off-hand manner, that former friend eventually apologized for their lack of common sense. But at that point the damage was already done. It kills me when grown adults fail to actually think about how their actions can affect others. Also how does a casual “sorry about that” provide any solace to the stress caused? My philosophy is, if you’re going to be sorry about something then don’t do it in the first place. That said I understand we all make mistakes. But a genuine apology would look a lot different from what that former friend did for me. Just a thought, I guess.
Despite my world falling apart, I had no choice but to press forward. I took a month off from work to collect my belongings and bring them back to my parent’s house. It was incredibly hard revisiting the home we shared for over two years. While I was there I could strangely still sense his presence. As I gathered all of my belongings with my mom, I started to cry. Hard. As I placed each of my possessions into boxes and make-shift bags (aka trash bags), I came across my first gift to my late husband. It was a framed photo of us that I presented to him for our first Valentine’s Day. I remembered that he had thrown the frame across the room and it had cracked and shattered. He had replaced it the next day when I had come home from work. I distinctly remember why he threw it across the room. A close friend of mine at that time had wanted me to meet them at a somewhat far Dave and Buster’s. My husband started feeling cancer symptoms that week and I didn’t know. He never complained about meeting my friends before. But that evening, he was irritated that my friend was always being selfish and never wanted to meet half way. It would take an hour to get to Dave and Buster’s and he was not ok with making that trip at 8pm in the evening. I was upset because I had already gotten ready and had committed to the night.
I don’t know why that is the memory I decided to reminisce about as I pushed all of my belongings into a large black trash bag. I think as I sat in my husband’s hospital room the night he was admitted, all I could remember is regret. Regret that I stressed him about going out that night. Regret that I told him that he had changed especially in the way he loved me. If only I knew. If only I knew that those were my final moments with him. He was really sick and I couldn’t believe I had the audacity to think that he didn’t love me as much as he did before. My petty thoughts during that fight came rushing back as I pushed everything that I owned into multiple trash bags. The overwhelming sense of grief shook my body to the core then it was replaced by a rush of panic about my future and what I was to do from that point forward.
Then, I thought about my son. I had completely forgot about my son. My son had been spending his time with my parents during my entire relationship with my late husband. With the arguments and tragic situations, I really never went out of my way to focus on my son for the past three years. He was really the victim. For the past 10 years of his life, my son had silently endured years of fighting since his birth. Now, it was back to the two of us. What was I going to do to make up for all of this lost time? How? Without a time machine, I was at a loss as to how I was to eradicate years of hurt my son had to experience due to adults too busy worrying about their selfish agendas. And I had spearheaded the entire situation. At least now I could spend all of my time with him without wedding arguments or dealing with illness. I finally would have time to do that science project my son had been asking me for.
When I got home, I spent a good deal of time staring at my sleeping son’s face. Sitting on the edge of his bed, I was reminded of the week that I sat on the edge of my late husband’s bed in the hospital praying that he opens his eyes. Unlike my husband, my son looked so peaceful as he slept. Finally back home, I decided to close my eyes and rest. Tomorrow would be a new day.
Again, I am better off healed than I ever was unbroken. Friends, have you been through any of this? Is it just me?