A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
Today’s been the hardest day I’ve had in ages.
Not because it was the day that I went back to work and not because I decided to embrace my social life for a short while, but because I spent 12 hours revisiting my old life.
And because I realised that that’s what it is.
My old life.
I can’t get it back.
My old life was incredible. It was full of joy, laughter, amazing people and ridiculous amounts of fun.
But that’s my past, not my present.
I’ve said this at least once before but I’m really not fishing. Actually I imagine I’d get quite cross if any well-wishers responded to this post to say that I’ll be happy again one day and that the laughter that once came so naturally would return.
But I’m honestly not angling.
I’m just being honest and I’m not hoping to be placated.
Today was difficult because, in trying to move forwards, I felt like I was moving backwards. And the place I reached felt tricky, uncomfortable and unfamiliar.
All day I’ve felt feelings that I didn’t expect to feel, especially when all I was doing was treading paths that once felt so familiar.
Three such paths made today feel tough.
The first saw me sitting back at my old desk talking shop and drinking tea, feeling kind of normal but at the same time feeling completely displaced. All of a sudden I missed the toy trains that have driven me slightly crazy for the last few weeks because I wasn’t there with their adorable conductor, my son.
The second saw me covering old ground with old mates. I’ve spent the last few months in a bubble surrounded only by my most immediate friends and family. I’d invite more of the people I love in, but intuitively I know that’s not what my son needs. And as his feelings are all I truly care about right now, then mine must wait. So when two friends who I hadn’t had the opportunity to hang out with for a while treated me to lunch, I took a trip back in time and the journey felt rocky. We all needed to catch up and catching up meant revisiting emotions that I thought I’d already put to bed. But l realised that its way too soon for my feelings to take a rest. The last three months have simply seen me drop an emotional pebble into a lake and now I must watch its impact turn into ever increasing ripples. So if I’m to make all the people who care about me understand how I feel, I’ve still got a long way to go.
The third saw me go for drinks with friends, close, casual and new. Don’t get me wrong, I had a nice time but I also felt like I wasn’t really there. I saw a girl wearing a pair of shoes that my wife also owned and I felt sad that they weren’t adorning her feet. I found myself drinking free drinks in a women’s pop-up shop and I was disappointed that I had no one to buy any of the clothes for. I wanted to talk rubbish about nothing with people who didn’t know anything about my situation but at the same time I only wanted to talk about how much I miss my wife and love my son.
And I wondered, where should I stop?
When do I become a bore?
When does my conversation become too difficult to listen to?
And how the hell am I meant to know what shape my new life is supposed to take when I’d barely had chance to structure my old one?