As Your Heart Stopped, Mine Broke

dealing with grief
Photo by Elizaveta Dushechkina

I held your hand, caressed your face, and whispered my goodbye.

I promised you I would be okay, that I would remember you, and take care of people. I made promises that sound routine and common now but meant everything to me as I spoke them.

Moments felt like seconds and hours, all at the same time. Waiting for you to fly away and be at peace.

The machine told me your heart was slowly getting weaker. My breathing starting to catch, my hand wrapped around your leg tightly. Maybe, just maybe, if I held on tight enough, you would not leave. As your heart and breath began to stop, my knees buckled, and my heart broke.

It was at this moment I knew that my life would never be the same. Standing beside a bed that no longer had your spirit was the moment I knew that everything was about to change.

The following days went by in a blur full of hugs, love, and memories. I thought this was the hard part. The decisions, the pictures, the empty house. Once we got through this, it was just life, right?

Right?

I very quickly realized that this was wrong. The hard part was just beginning because, to be honest, grief is a bitch.

Now, let us be honest. Life is a little more fun with a few bitches hanging around. The hangover, the overstuffed sushi pants, and the bang of your funny bone on a corner. Little inconveniences that make you say, ugh, what a bitch. It makes life interesting and keeps people on their toes.

Grief is on the next level, though. It overtakes you, it swallows you whole, and all you know is drowning. You cannot breathe, and you cannot find the surface. You cannot find the air, and the fear remains as to when it will stop.

The problem with grief is it gets you like a thousand knives hitting you at any given moment. No rhyme or reason, just pain, and sadness. It does not have to make sense because grief just is.

Grief is wearing a cute dress only to remember that your papa once said it was pretty on you. Grief is having a cold beer after a long day at work only to randomly smell your uncle’s aftershave. Fluttering thoughts that overtake your world. Tears well in your eyes, hot air fills your lungs, and suddenly you are back there. In that hospital, holding that hand, making those promises. You become transported to a time where your life was crumbling only to remember that the crumbs are still very much there.

The worst part about grief is there is no timeline for when it goes away.

Three months, five years, or twenty years, it can still hit you. Maybe not as often or as extreme, but the sadness and emptiness of someone dying are never gone. They are the only thing gone, and that totally sucks.

The pain dwindles, but the loss is always there. The empty void at birthdays and holidays, the stories that they would have loved to hear, the babies they never got to meet.

Death and grief are total bitches. The best we can do is learn to breathe and remember that while missing people hurts, having them to miss was totally worth it.

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