GRIEF: I expected when the end came that grief would be an all-consuming dark chasm. Instead, it has been more of a constant imbalance. I feel like a three-legged dog. I think that may be because the last several months, he was not the person I spent the previous 56 years with. He had mobility and balance issues requiring constant assistance. His difficulty swallowing made meal decisions and eating a challenge. His personality changed, and although there were occasional glimpses of the old Butch and his sense of humor, most of the time I felt like I hardly knew him. Worst of all, his speech became almost indecipherable. Our conversations were a combination of him making wild and random gestures, me making guesses, him shaking his head in frustration and trying to form words, me writing down words that he could point to, and so on. Those months were the dark chasm, partly because I felt there should be something I could do to make it better, but I didn't know what it was.
Now I know there is nothing I can do to change things. Instead, I find myself absently getting two sets of silverware out for supper and then putting one back, not turning on lights when I get up early and tiptoeing around, and reminding myself when something funny or disgusting happens to tell him about it. I think in most marriages, certain tasks become the domain of one partner or the other because of skills, interests, convenience, and/or just habit. He took care of the vehicles (skill and interest), changed the light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries (convenience--he was taller), did most of the driving (he loved to drive), and took care of retrieving things from the lockbox and recycling cans. (habit) So I am learning new skills and habits. For example, I used a car wash a week ago for the first time in my life. But I'm still a three legged dog.
The food and visits from family and friends both before and after his death were incredible. Other women friends who have been through the same thing have been especially supportive. And I am thankful for the years we had together. We took such wonderful trips in the three years that we were both fully retired. But we also enjoyed the years the kids were growing up (most of the time!) He was a nice man, a great friend, a loving father and grandfather, and a very special husband.
GRIPES: The amount of paperwork, phone calls, and trips to offices in even a simple estate is astounding. In over half of the required contacts that I had to make, the company or agency representative expressed sincere sounding condolences and then proceeded to explain how they were going to royally screw up my life. In at least two instances, I have filled out paperwork twice for the same request. One fifteen page document that I completed only had three pages that I needed to answer--even though one of the pages that I didn't need to do (according to the person on the help line) said MANDATORY SECTION at the top. I asked the representative "You know what mandatory means, right?" I had to close our joint bank account and open a new one in my name only. That would not be a big deal except for automatic deposits and withdrawals. All new numbers. But I think it is finally winding down and I have most things handled.
The only thing I am having a hard time with is that he isn't here. And he isn't coming back.