Photo was from 11/17/12 when we were loading lumber into a U-Haul. The windchimes on the left have an inscription to Keith. The moon seemed to be smiling on us as we worked.

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So the research by the likes of Kubler-Ross indicates that there are various stages of grief…Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. But these are not necessarily linear. They can slide you down like rocks dropping into valleys deep within the peaks of outward “normalcy”. I think I have gone through all of these at least once, like a car whose brakes are slipping a bit, losing their grip on the side of the steep hill of grief that I’m trying to ride.

“He’s not coming back.”

The words popped into my head as I was rushing home from a long day to pick up a birthday cake for my younger daughter from her favorite bakery. Why did those words suddenly appear in my mind? I wasn’t thinking of Keith before then, at least not consciously. But there they were… stopping me in my tracks. I gulped. Hard. And then looked up at the darkening sky ahead of me, a large full moon emerging on the horizon. He’s there. He’s watching me from there, that same full moon that shone on the night he died, lighting his path to that other place, that “beyond” which is out of my reach.

No, he’s not coming back. And there in lies the issue at hand. I go about my days, keeping busy with work, with doctoral studies, spending time with my grown children, shopping, or whatever. Working late into the night, I resist the urge to sleep, unsettled by the empty space on the bed. Yet I go about these things in a normal way, the same way I would if Keith were out of town. But he’s not out of town, and he’s never coming back.

So tonight it was the return of the “anger” stage of grief… Angry over this gap and my inability to leap over it, or fill it in. Angry at Keith for leaving, angry (or is it disappointment) at myself for not being able to find that stable emotional footing. You know… that footing built from 34 years of waking each day knowing there was a partner I shared life with, and all those factors involved with it.

And then there’s this other aspect that came to the fore of my thoughts…

“Till death do us part.”

Those ubiquitous words we say when we wed our loved one. Do we really think about what that means? “Till death do us part…” What the hell? Certainly, I don’t think the average newlyweds really think of this. Forever seems infinite when you’re standing before the alter, pledging your love to your soul mate.

But forever has an ending. That’s the part I’m coming to terms with. Forever has an ending.

So, like all those other widows and widowers out there who deal with this, or any others who have lost someone close – father, mother, child, close friend, I have some figuring out to do.

I have to figure out how to step over that threshold and leap across that giant gaping hole of “forever”. And once across, I’ll need to find my way through the dark forests of these stages without getting lost. I’m looking forward to getting to “acceptance”, with the changing phases of the moon as my flashlight.

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