You've probably heard this before, but death is not pretty. Much like birth it is messy, painful and laborious. Something we all must go through, and yet in our society, so cloaked in shadow and fear that until you actually are present for the process of death you may not really comprehend it.
When I am lucky, I can remember the good times. Falling in love, raising our babies and sharing our small victories. The richness of two lives woven together, and all of the joy that brought... and still brings, even though there is a huge piece missing.
And then there are other times. Times that come out of nowhere, catch me fully awake as I go about my daily life or hit me as I fall asleep, my mind relaxed enough to let in a barrage of memories I cannot forget.
Blood everywhere. Being told to buy red or black sheets and towels so that if my husband bled out at some point it would be less scary for our kids.
The gaps between breaths. The SOUND of someone you love struggling to do the one thing we all do effortlessly everyday.
Being handed a sheet of paper and told to make arrangements for the disposal of the body. As if that body wasn't still lying in my living room, struggling through another day.
A friend of mine, who had lost her first husband years earlier, tried to prepare me. "There will be a sound that comes out of you when it happens. You won't even know you are making it." She was right. I screamed that day in a way I never had before, even in the throes of pain so awful I thought I must be ripping apart. It was not a cry, I couldn't do that yet. I didn't make that sound again until 6 months after Jason died and the numbing fog I was in began to clear a little. It is the sound of pure grief, and it is primal. It is horrifying. It is cleansing.
That is another grief I have had to contend with. I thought, hoped, that surely he would die peacefully. That I could hold his hand and whisper my love to him and make it somehow easier to let go. Surely, he deserved that. But it didn't happen that way. And those memories still claw their way to the forefront of my mind and leave me in a panic. They won't stop, but I hope someday they will become less powerful. I hope someday I can use them to help others in the same situation, even if just a little.