Just after midnight on Sunday morning, my husband died.
I’m struggling to say that word, “died.” It seems harsh. Too brutal. There are so many euphemisms, “passed,” “departed,” “transitioned.” They all try to hide the horror we all seem to have at the idea of death.
But Mike wouldn’t have wanted that. He wasn’t afraid of death. And when his time came, he was ready to die.
I kept telling myself I was ready, too, and maybe I was. Maybe I am. Sometimes I am.
Ready isn’t the same thing as happy. I am not happy. I am so sad my brain can’t contain it. I am so consumed with thoughts of him that sometimes, every time I open my mouth to call somebody by name, Mike’s name comes out first. I am so lonely that I cannot even recognize my own company. I am distraught even when I can’t see it in myself.
But I’m okay. I was ready. Mike made sure of that.
But again, ready isn’t the same thing as comfortable. Ready isn’t the same thing as content. When a doctor asks if you’re ready for them to administer a vaccine, you might be, but that doesn’t mean you’re not afraid when you say “yes.” It doesn’t mean you’re not still surprised by the pain. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
And it doesn’t make it feel real when somebody tells you that now you are changed. Now you can’t get tetanus, but you can’t see the difference when you look in the mirror.
Now I am a widow. I am the widow Grover. I am a widowed mother of three.
I still see myself in the mirror, and the idea that Mike isn’t going to tell me how good I look, or pinch my butt when I walk past, or rest his hand on my waist and kiss me for no reason at all, it’s all impossible. But I know it’s true. I know he won’t. I know he’s gone.
Tomorrow is another piece of saying goodbye. Tomorrow, Saturday, January 16th, we are holding a memorial for my husband, at 4:30PM CST. On the fifth day of sitting shiva for my husband, a minister will come to our home and read scripture and preside over what passes in these days as a funeral. Meanwhile, Mike’s remains will have returned to the funeral home after cremation. All but his brain. His amazing brain. That he donated, a final gift to help others overcome the disease he never wanted to define him.
Mike never believed cancer was a battle he fought. He always believed it was simply a fact. Doctors fought cancer, he just took medicine and lived his life. He hated the idea that cancer was something to win or lose, that to succumb to death was ever a failure, that life was only measured by your ability to stretch it out.
He lived so well, my husband. And he died so beautifully. I am unspeakably proud of him.
Maybe I was ready.
Maybe you can never be ready to rest your head on your other half’s chest and hear nothing at all.
Maybe I will never be comforted by the sound of another heartbeat.
I take comfort in knowing what Mike knew, what he said so often. I’m not going to survive this. None of us get out of our lives alive. All of us die, and that’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay that life does and must end. If I suffer daily for missing Mike, that will end, too, but he didn’t want that. He wanted after his death what he wanted every day in his life. For me to be happy.
And I’m going to try.
I guess it isn’t the end. It’s AN end.
But I’m not sure I’m ready for another beginning.
Join us for Mike’s memorial, which we are livestreaming on youtube for everyone who cared so much about his from a distance:
You can donate to a GoFundMe for Mike’s end-of-life care here: Love for the Grover Family
Read my most recent post here: Waiting for the End
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