The Work-in-Progress of My Grieving


In the hospital, my wife had me write down a list of things I should do after she died. It wasn’t a list of things around our apartment that needed to be taken care of. Nor was it a list of affairs that needed to be put in order after her death. It was more of a list of things she wanted me to accomplish. Things that would make her happy. Things that would make me happy because I did them for her. It’s been nearly 10 months since she died, and I still haven’t finished her list. And, surprisingly, I don’t feel guilty. Well, not so much anymore.

She wanted me to keep watching our shows. Shows we had been watching for years. I was able to watch some of them. Sometimes, I watched alone; and sometimes I watched with her sisters. Others, though, I couldn’t keep up with. Not without her. I did, finally, eat at our favorite Indian restaurant with her parents and one of her sisters. There were recipes I couldn’t make. Trips I couldn’t take as often as she would have liked. I fell behind on our outdoor activities. And I didn’t raise my bow, not even once for her, during deer season. I did manage to see, as requested, “The Girl on the Train.” She had read the book and was very much looking forward to seeing the movie. I have no doubt she would have liked the book better.

The last thing she had me write down on the list was to always be part of the family. We were together for seven years before she died. I had been a part of the family for quite some time. Her sisters called me their brother. And her father treated me like I was his own son. This should be easy to accomplish, right? Wrong. I closed myself off from everyone. I quit answering phone calls and text messages. I would either not go to family events, or leave them early. And I quit sharing my feelings with all of them.

I couldn’t live like this forever, though. I couldn’t let my wife down. I’ve stared to crawl out of the hole I walked in to nearly 10 months ago. I answer calls and text messages now. I go to family events. Not all of them, but I go. And I stay until they’re over with. I share my feelings with a few members of her family. One day, I might be able to share how I’m doing with everyone. It’s work in progress. I’m a work in progress. And, I will finish the list. Maybe not by the one-year mark of her death. Maybe not even in the next five years. But, I will finish everything on the list. And, in the end, I won’t need to feel guilt for taking so long. Nope. I’ll be happier for having done everything for her, though.

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