I read something recently that I wanted to share with you that I think articulates part of the miracle…yes, I did say miracle…of loss. Not the loss itself, of course…but what (dare I say) rebirth when it happens. Mark Metousek said:
“It seems perverse that authenticity should stem from loss. The outline cracks, you split apart, half of you is left stranded on an iceberg floating into the chilly distance. You’re suspended in partiality, cut off from who you thought you were. This is when questioning starts, that’s the truth – when you can’t put yourself back together again, when the old parts don’t fit and the new ones have yet to arrive. You stand there looking into the mirror wondering, What in God’s name is that? This lopsided mess of an unglued creature leering back at what used to be me?
….You haven’t yet heard of the hidden face. You haven’t quite learned that losing what you thought could never be lost is precisely what shows you who you really are.”
Many of us talk about the changes that we go through after losing our spouse and if I could pinpoint anything positive that comes from loss…that would be it. I had no idea, before my husband died, that I was living what I guess I would now call my “inauthentic” life. And the truth is…I don’t know why I was. My husband was a good guy. It wasn’t like he was forcing me into a life that I didn’t want.
I just never questioned what I wanted.
When he died…I had to. I had to ask myself what I wanted because my life was gone. I always hesitate to phrase that so negatively, but you know what? Let’s call a spade a spade. MY LIFE WAS GONE. Not that I didn’t think I could go on living. Not at all. Even driving home from the hospital after he died, I knew that I had it in me to live a good life. True, I didn’t know how hard the process was going to be.
But I didn’t doubt that I would get there someday.
Now, many of people will say that their lives were perfectly fine before their spouses died. And I’m sure that’s true. Mine was. But was I really looking at life? Was I seeing the world unfiltered? Was I questioning where I was going and what I wanted to get out of it?
Nope. Not really.
I was a suburban housewife. A happy suburban housewife. Sure…no life is perfect. But it was good. I didn’t question it. I didn’t want to rock my own boat.
And now that he’s gone? Every so often I stand up in my boat so that I can see a little bit further. Sure, standing up throws me off balance.
But how else can I make sure I’m going where I want to go?