Sometimes life just up and punches you in the gut, leaving you gasping and crying on the floor with nothing to do but endure. The only medicine for it is time. Time flows like a river, and it carries you away from the pain. You'll always feel it, but it gets smaller and easier to deal with as the distance increases.
Thursday, January 19th 2012 was a day like that. I was in New York, far from my home in Virginia, trying to get my parents squared away with some kind of elder care. My cell phone rang and I got the news that my wife of six years had suddenly and unexpectedly died. Eight years, almost to the day, since we'd first met.
Naturally I was in shock. Called my brother, who came over from Connecticut and made the drive back to Virginia with me. It probably wouldn't have been a good idea for me to do it alone. I might have gone off the road. The drive was surreal. We followed my usual route, which involves taking I84 to I81 thru the Poconos. It was snowing heavily in spots, and since we didn't leave New York until almost 5PM, most of the trip was after dark. We spoke little. It felt like a dream, and my mind kept circling back to "this can't be real."
It was all too real. We got to my house at one in the morning on Friday. EMTs and police had come and gone. My wife was already at the ME's office. There was nothing to be done but put fresh sheets on the bed - she had been in bed when she died, apparently asleep - and try to get some rest. I slept fitfully, and only for about three hours. Woke up later that morning and began to work the phone to get some answers.
There was no obvious cause of death, like a heart attack or stroke or some such. As of this writing, I still don't have a definitive cause. I'm waiting on test results that may take as much as four months to come back. This is because Virginia, like most governments, had to cut back on spending due to the economic downturn and, again like most governments, cut the wrong things first. The lab that does the testing is seriously understaffed. Anyway.
The funeral was yesterday, Monday the 30th. Today I am alone in the house, friends and family having all gone home. There have been tears, sobs, gasps for breath and burning eyes. And all I have to see me thru this dark, evil time is faith.
Some of you who read my blog have no faith. You, my friends, live in a cold and empty place. You deride and belittle those of us who see the connection to something larger. You point at all the horrible things that have been done in the name of faith (actually in the name of religion, a different beast altogether, which compounds your ignorance, but what the hell . . . ) and you miss completely the strength that faith gives to us.
I have faith that there's a plan, and a planner behind the plan, and that eventually all this seeming chaos we mere mortals live with will make sense. We're so small, we humans, with such limited understanding . . . we're fleas on a grain of sand and some of us think the sand is all there is. The ocean that lies so close to our little grain of sand is too vast to even apprehend, much less comprehend. But, like the saying goes, you don't have to believe in the ocean to get your foot wet when you step in it.
My faith comforts me. It tells me that my dear wife is in a better place, waiting for me, along with all those who have passed before us. I will inevitably take my place there as well, and the time of the transition is not for me to know. As it was not for her to know when she so abruptly left us. This pain I feel is in reality a selfish thing, for it marks my desire to have her back with me. And that would mean she was still dealing with her own pain, rather than experiencing now the transcendent freedom that awaits us when the surly bonds of earth are at last slipped and we rejoin the Maker.
But I loved her dearly, and so miss her terribly, and for now it just hurts.