When someone we love dies, our minds spend a great deal of time looking back. If we’ve been at the bedside as death arrived, we go over and over that sequence of events because of a driving need to do so.
Watching someone die is distressing and can’t be dismissed by a quick act of the will, and I’m not sure it would be a good idea to do so anyway, even if that were possible. Looking back for a while feels like honoring the loved one who has passed away, which in turn helps the one still living.
I’ve gone over the hours and minutes leading up to Nate’s death again and again, combing through the details. Something in me longs to dwell there for a while longer, knowing eventually my heart will leave for good, although my mind will always remember the facts, minus the sadness.
I find myself wanting to rearrange events and conversations like a chef wants to put a messy spice rack back in order. Of course I know rearranging the past is fantasy, but how do I swap looking back for moving forward?
Recent days seem more difficult than those immediately after Nate died, as if a scab covering a wound has been pulled off and the injury has to start healing all over again. Experts tell us the grieving process is moving along well when we stop reliving the last days and the death scene and instead replay good times we had together before the disease came. Although I felt I was doing well in the healing process, maybe I’m not.
Hospice has kept in touch with us since Nate’s passing and has offered emotional support throughout the first year. They’ve told us that the birth of Micah Nathan and the coming of the twins in England can be roadblocks to grieving at the same time they’re a cause for rejoicing. This might be especially true for the parents of these little ones, our daughter with Micah and our son fathering the twins.
Hospice warned that as we met and got to know Micah, we’d have some feel-bad moments. His middle name represents a relationship he’ll never know, which is another small hurdle for us to jump, even as we take pleasure in his significant name. Hospice suggests we save something of Nate’s to give to Micah, a tangible link between the two Nathans, not so much for Micah’s sake as for ours. They also suggested we write letters for the baby in an effort to give grandpa-info to him while it’s still fresh. This will simultaneously help our grief.
Skylar with Nate Nicholas with Nate
Recently I had a dream that may have revealed where I am emotionally. I saw it like a movie of someone else, although I was in it. Nate and I were hugging, then stepped back to look at each other face to face while holding hands. We continued back-stepping, letting go, without making any effort to stop ourselves, yet neither of us seemed frustrated as the gap widened. Eventually we stepped back so far, we both dropped out of the scene completely.
It was a sad dream but a slice of life as it is. Nate is completely out of my sight, but I can somehow “see” him a little if I relive those last weeks. Eventually I’ll hop over them to the happy times before, a sign that grieving is almost at an end. God’s plan is to bring healing, not to extend hurt, and I eagerly look for his release.
“Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)