Mourn Memory

26 Nov

Shuffle on my media player lands on this

and for a moment I can’t breathe and I curse the fact that my Ativan prescription sits unfilled in my pocket. I feel my eyes well up and my chest tightens as the past falls on me and I see our first apartment and think of the hours we spent there, just us, and how I made Absinthe for our wedding and the morning after I touched him and thought Husband! and there was magic in that word and I swelled. My world swelled like it was breathing, and I felt whole there.

I graze over the red meat for what may be the last time, still unsure what I should bring home. Suddenly I’m full of those first months together when we did it all together, when we were a unit and we could laugh together, even while I waited for someone to figure out he stole a donut every time we did the groceries. I can feel laughter from then like bubbles in my chest.  Sparklers alight inside me, convinced I was glowing.

Bus past the hospital where my daughters were born, one early morning after a long night, the other quickly after days of waiting, misty and wetwarm when Vivian made her way into our arms, cloudy and cold, crunchy ground cold as Rosalyn stormed and roared into life. He’s there, in awe, in shock, in immediate love, and never did I love him more, never could I love him as much as the moment when he fell in love with his daughters. Inside, something felt peace watching his strong hands absently counting their fingers, my heart skipping a beat as he’d glance back to me briefly, our eyes meeting before his went back to his newest lady love. I fell in love with their father in that hospital, not just my husband.

All the places we walked together, all the time, the places touched, the resonance in a memory-these things I cannot erase. I cannot throw out. I cannot erase the trail behind the house, I cannot forget the love I felt as I watched my family walk and laugh, the pride, the joy this gave me.

I cannot lose these things, and I cannot stop the grief that rises up.

I’m told I’ll come out of this stronger. I’ll know more about myself than I did, and in the end, I’ll be thankful that the end came before we ground ourselves in to powder, to even less recognizable parts of us.

But that doesn’t stop my hurt right now. It doesn’t stop the ache that screams to return to when we understood who we were, or at least, when we were able to love despite who we were. It doesn’t stop me from hating myself for failure, for having the one thing I swore I would not have-a fractured family. I grieve more for my daughters, for the family they’ll never know, the unit. That which I lost too, the only thing I apparently could not protect for them.

I’ve never mourned the living. In this moment, it hurts a hell of a lot more than any crying I ever did for the dead.


Those of you who have gone through separation, divorce-how long is it this bad? How long until I can spend 18 hours awake and not find myself seized by memory and loneliness? How long until I find my footing?


21 Responses to “Mourn Memory”

  1. bea November 26, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    For me it was three months until the first day that I felt normal. I was Christmas shopping and eating lunch and I felt a strange, unfamiliar sensation – it wasn’t happiness or sadness or anger. And then I realized what it was – I just felt normal. I didn’t STAY feeling normal, of course, but that was the first real break, and after that the normalcy came and went.

  2. Mindchatter November 26, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Beautiful, painful, poignant. I’m sorry for your loss–consider writing a book, you’re very gifted.


  3. CharmingBitch November 27, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    Keeping in mind that my divorce didn’t involve shared children, just the shared experience of raising his sister’s kids for five years, the rawness took about four months to wear off. Cherish the memories but I predict you will be feeling like a whole new you once he is out of the house and you can really create a new day to day for yourself.

    • thordora November 27, 2009 at 8:00 am #

      That’s pretty much what I’m being told-that once the initial pain subsides, things will be better. It’s getting there that kinda sucks.

  4. bad mummy November 27, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    I don’t know. Maybe the first time he pisses you off over a co-parenting issue and you realize you don’t recognize him, let alone like him.

    It’s 2+ yrs later and I can’t seem to let go off the shit that went down. The crappy way I felt when he told me how terrible a person I was. The worry of not having money in the joint account to pay for groceries and formula. The disappointment of broken promises.

    If I might make a blog recommendation, please go visit This Mama’s Dharma. She writes of being where you may very well be in two years.

  5. wn November 27, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I wish I had something…anything…to offer…but I don’t.

    But keep breathing…keep writing…keep doing the things that get you through the day.

    And I am told….that one day it gets less raw….hang on for THAT day…as hard as you can.


  6. Sheri November 27, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    I’m sorry you’re feeling so much pain. One thing that stood out in your post was your feelings of failure. What has happened is not a sign of failure on your part. Finding a way to understand that might help you on your way to having less pain. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to still be sharing your home.


  7. Marcy November 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    You’re doing well. I know it doesn’t make it easier or less painful to hear that, but you are doing well and you will survive this. Being fully present now and allowing yourself the fullness of your grief is the best thing you can do. Oh, and get that script filled!

    Likewise, as Sheri said, this is not your failure. We’ve seen your commitment and effort — not without flaws, some bad ones included, but you wanted to make it work. It does indeed take two.

  8. schmutzie November 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday –

  9. Jen November 28, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    I wish I had advice for you but I don’t. I’m thinking of you, though, fwiw.

  10. flutter November 28, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    still here, lending strength

  11. Leah November 28, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    Thank you for finding my blog and commenting. May I add you to my blogroll?

    I wish I could tell you, “give it six months, give it a year.” Like any huge loss, there are layers of grief, like an onion. It bubbles up at weird times, sometimes without rhyme or reason. I promise you one thing: if you allow yourself to feel it, to the extent that you are able, it will move through and something new will dawn in its place, eventually.

    I find that grief, consistently avoided, has tended to bite me in the ass. It’s easier to allow myself to move into it, little by little, rather than to shut it off, which is my own personal habit.

    • thordora November 28, 2009 at 9:37 am #

      I loved finding your site! Link away-you’re in my reader.

      I figure it’s much like when my mother died, except I’m much more concious of it. And the grief took years-anger only appeared when I was 14 or 15, so 3 years after she was gone. Acceptance I only found once I graduated high school. And I still miss her.

      My experiences have told me exactly what you’ve said-the only way out it through. Feel it-REALLY feel the ache, the los, the anger, face it, and let it go.

      Execution of this, however, is difficult.

      Ativan helps.

  12. Liz November 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    I am so sorry you are going through this most painful of life experiences. My divorce was very painful too. The hardest part of it for me was trying to figure out the mystery as to WHY we had unraveled after 12 years together and two children. I kept trying to piece it all together in my head to figure out WHEN, at WHAT POINT EXACTLY did our marriage disintegrate or at what point did it START to disintegrate. That was the hardest part for me….the constant swirling in my head of trying to figure out the what and why of it all. It felt to me on the inside like the world trade center collapsing and imploding in on itself. It was gut wrenching and mind blowing at times. It took me two years to sift through the ashes and figure out what had happened.

    I remember I had to constantly talk to people who knew us to try to sort and figure things out. My poor mother listened to me for hours and hours and hours on end.

    Looking back, we had become after 12 years of marriage and two kids very incompatible room mates. We had seriously grown apart. The air between us had become stale and we were both suffocating for lack of oxygen. It took me a few years to completely sort through how that had happened to us and to figure out the dysfunctional aspects of our relationship simmering beneath the surface all along.

    Last April, my current husband and I went to Amsterdam for a week. We stopped in one of the “tea houses” and than later headed back to our hotel. The “tea” hit me and I spent the evening weeping out on the balcony overlooking the street. My ex- and I had been to Europe several times together and had spent many a glorious evening sipping wine in cafes just people watching-our favorite thing to do. The memories and tea created the perfect storm that evening to send me purging the final remnants of terrible pain and grief of losing him from my life forever. My love of past…..if only we could go back in time to one of those cafes and hold each other tight for what would one day come. We would never believe it……

    • thordora November 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

      I think is just it. Except there was nothing to grow away from because nothing was there, and I’ve been sodesperate to maintain “family” that I would just deal with it, assume it would change, or he’d change or I’d change more. I haven’t had fun with him in a very long time, nor has he. Like you did, I’ve been looking back to find the kink in the hose where it started, but I don’t think it started-it was just life.

      I’m sure from time to time I’ll be somewhere and suddenly I’ll feel him and I’ll lose it….grief doesn’t respect time.

      Thanks for sharing Liz. It helps.

  13. Vicki December 1, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    I’m right there in the thick of it with you. I don’t know how to make it easy. I thought things were going to be amicable between he and I, too. Now they are so tense that words betray me on a regular basis. I went from sad, to tolerant, to hate in just a few short months. I’m at that stage where it isn’t hurt anymore, its anger, and that stage is eating me alive.

    I wish I could say that it would be easier but I’m only around 3 months out and it has only gotten messier. All I can offer is a prayer for the both of us.

  14. jeanette December 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    “I wish I could tell you, “give it six months, give it a year.” Like any huge loss, there are layers of grief, like an onion. It bubbles up at weird times, sometimes without rhyme or reason. I promise you one thing: if you allow yourself to feel it, to the extent that you are able, it will move through and something new will dawn in its place, eventually.

    I find that grief, consistently avoided, has tended to bite me in the ass. It’s easier to allow myself to move into it, little by little, rather than to shut it off, which is my own personal habit.”

    Leigh said it very well. Although the circumstances of my divorce are very different – the grief is similar, I think. I remember lying in bed one night with my girlfriend, and asking her – ‘when will i feel whole again’ and her reply ‘it is my experience that you will never feel fully whole again’

    And although that sounds like the most devastating response, it is honestly the one thing that brought me to peace, over and over again. This new me, the broken, not-quite-whole me was not only acceptable, but normal, and okay. And there is space for fullness and beauty within that space. And that you can learn to navigate what comes, and it will hurt and you will cry – but you will learn and grow and fly.

    Truthfully – two years later, it is still hard. Not hard like it was in the beginning, but still difficult in a million difficult ways. But there is beauty too, and strength, and love.

    You’ll get through. You all will.

    Sending you love. I know how much I needed love in waves at first, craved it from everywhere around me. Hopefully you’ll feel some of mine from far away.


    • thordora December 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

      I’ve been trying to just let it come as it may-and it seems to be working. My experience with grief if it does leave you a different person-maybe not worse, but changed.

      I do crave that love, but I’m also wallowing in the new me emerging. I’m sure she’ll dart and hide still, but she feels so much better overall. And I like her…I think she’s been there all along and this grief, this will bring her to where she was supposed to be all along.

  15. Liz December 1, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    Yes, I agree with both Jeanette and Thordora that the grief changes you. I have never had anyone close to me die and so my divorce has been my first life loss. I now post-divorce feel far more fragile and vulnerable to life in general but also far more appreciative. I appreciate and love more deeply those familiar mainstays (ranging from people to places to things to traditions etc.) in my life that have kept me anchored to my sanity (and joy) these past few years. During the divorce, I’d had these intense “dark night of the soul” anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. But the next day the sun shines brightly and the world looks more beautiful outside my kitchen window because I’m awake and survived that awful night…in daylight it’s not all as bad as I thought it had been anyway. It sounds like you Thordora are already seeing glimpses of a whole new future YOU ahead of you. That’s wonderful…that’s a great place to be. I think you’ll do just fine 🙂

    • thordora December 2, 2009 at 7:27 am #

      Thank you. 🙂 I think I will too. Being a little scared is good for the soul.

  16. Titanium December 4, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    Grief knows no season. But like bulbs planted long ago, hope sprouts tiny green shoots and persists- emerging above the destruction.

    Hold on, Thordora. Time does not heal, but it weaves instead a soft spider’s web- a bridge to tomorrow and tomorrow.

    Sometimes all you can do is breathe.

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