What is Normal?

From the heart of a bereaved wife…me… It’s been slightly over a year now since Mike died. AND of course 2008 has just arrived.  I know most people are thinking it’s time I got back to “normal”  However, what exactly IS normal for me these days?

Well I’ll tell you.  This is now what my “normal” is like, 14 months later…..:
Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when I realize that very significant someone is missing from all the important events in my life.
Normal for me is trying to decide how to celebrate…right…celebrate….commemorate Mike’s Birthday, our Anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Valentine’s Day, July 4th, Veteran’s Day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and of course Easter.Normal is feeling like I know how to act “appropriately” but are more comfortable at a funeral than a wedding….yet feeling that sharp cold stab of pain in my heart when I see the casket or hear bagpipes playing Amazing Grace.

Normal is being comfortable in a hospital visiting someone who is sick or dying.
Normal is feeling like I can’t sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because I just can’t stand to sit through anything.
Normal is not being able to sleep or not sleeping very well because of those thousand thoughts..the what if’s and why didn’t I’s  running through my head constantly—like a broken record stuck in a groove.
Normal is reliving that day, those days, the date of diagnosis, the date of Mike’s death November 4th, his funeral November 11th continuously through my eyes; my mind and merely rocking in place, holding my head to just try and make it go away.
Normal is having the TV on the minute I walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
Normal is staring at every picture of a person who died of pancreatic cancer.  Staring at Mike’s photo taken before the words pancreatic cancer entered our world. And then thinking of what our life would be like today had he lived….but not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because I know it will never happen.
Normal is every event in my life—the ones that are supposed to be happy ones– are always being backed up, sometimes completely eclipsed, with sadness lurking close behind, due to the hole in my heart.
Normal is telling the story of my husband’s illness, his symptoms, his treatment, and finally his death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone’s eyes at how awful it sounds even though the listener has gotten a watered-down PG rated version of the truth…and yet realizing it has become a part of my “normal” life and that I seek out others with similar stories to share.
Normal is my heart warming when I see a note that my husband wrote….just seeing his handwriting makes him real all over again…..yet getting that sinking feeling again that always comes when  I tear my eyes away from that scrap of paper….he’s gone.  Never to write again.

Normal is the smile that tries to come across my face when I see something special that my husband loved–thinking how he much he would enjoy it; but the smile never comes because I suddenly remember how he is not here to enjoy it.

Normal is having people afraid to mention my husband and me telling them it’s ok to be afraid.

Normal is making sure that others remember Mike, but telling myself not to get angry when people don’t.

Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives–seamlessly, while I continue to grieve the loss forever and live in a sort of lonely solitude that comes from a death of a loved one.  It’s as if I died too.

Normal is weeks, months, and now entering the second year after the initial shock, at times the grieving is worse, not better.

Normal is not listening to any one else compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a spouse. NOTHING. Even if your loved one is in the remotest part of the earth away from you – it doesn’t compare.  A divorce does not compare. Losing a parent is horrible, losing a child is unnatural, losing a spouse….well that’s losing a part of me that cannot be replaced.

Normal is taking pills or drinking…self medicating it’s really called and trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it and I know people are watching me.

Normal is realizing I do hurt every single solitary minute of every day and because of that I cry everyday.

Normal is disliking jokes from people wanting a divorce or a separation from their spouse, or jokes about death or funerals, and bodies being referred to as corpses, when you know they were once someone’s loved one.

Normal is being utterly impatient with everything and everyone, except that someone who is stricken with grief over the loss of their loved one.

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how I feel with my online friends who have also lost a loved one to something horrific like pancreatic cancer.

Normal is feeling a common bond with friends on the computer in England, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and all over the USA, but yet never having met any of them face to face.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving soul, talking and crying together over our loss and our involuntary “new lives”.

Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God…. “God has His reasons, God works in mysterious ways, Mike is in heaven now and not in any pain, God must have really wanted Mike…. Or simply, God may have done this because…”.  Well, I love God, I know that my husband is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why 45 year old otherwise healthy people were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving wife.

Normal is being too tired to care if I paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.

Normal is wondering, and then getting saddened that I have to wonder this time how to answer those questions regarding my status.  Married?  Single?  Divorced?  Or……widowed?  Widowed isn’t a category on many forms.  It isn’t a relationship status on myspace.    I know my husband is gone, and I will never see him again but thinking it isn’t worth explaining that my husband is in heaven I just answer, married……just to a dead guy. That way I never betray Mike’s memory.

Normal is avoiding places where couples “hang out”.  Avoiding those places my husband used to like to go, and certainly never ever going to a place we used to go together; not going to certain restaurants or down certain streets because of the memories..going to these places only breaks my heart all over again.
Normal is asking God why he took my husband’s life instead of mine and wondering what I did to deserve this pain.
Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years. But I know I’ll get better at faking it out of consideration for everyone else.
And last of all, Normal is hiding all the things that have become “normal” for me now so that everyone around me will think that I am “normal”. That I’m all better and gotten over it.  Finally.

I’m normal now.

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