My husband Ely would have been 47 years old today. The 8th would have been our 15th wedding anniversary, and he died on November 2nd. You may be wondering how on earth I can write about happiness and high vibrations on this of all months.
This is the 5th year I’ve had to run this gauntlet of bittersweet days, one after the other after the other. Honestly the first couple of years there was nothing sweet about October….just a looming darkness that I dreaded all year. It seemed fitting to me that everything was dying, and I didn’t see how I would ever again be able to appreciate and enjoy the inevitable changing of the seasons.
But, as the cliche goes, time heals, and at the very root of the healing is acceptance. Every year, whether I want it to or not, October swings back around and wears away the sharp edges of my grief like a river smooths the jagged edges of a rock. October comes and everything still dies. October comes and Ely is still gone.
He is still gone, and the first couple years I railed against this simple truth. Or rather, I drank to deny it and numb it and make it not hurt so much. The third year rolled around, and he was still gone, and I was sober this time and had to let the stark truth of his loss smack into me like a wave. It almost knocked me down but it didn’t. It didn’t because grief won’t kill us, although it feels like it will. It can make us lose our footing and flail, panicking, in the water, but eventually we come up sputtering and our feet find the ground again and we gratefully breathe in huge gulps of life-giving air. We feel the ground beneath our feet and it’s as solid as truth, and the truth is this: people die. People die and it will hurt and we will miss them and it’s all okay. It’s not only okay, it’s as it should be.
So here it is, October again. Everything is dying. Ely is still gone. And I am — by some miracle — still here, alive, breathing, feeling, loving, hurting, missing, accepting and appreciating how beautiful and brutal and fleeting it all is. And that seems like as good a reason as any to be happy and to write about it.