It's been more than six months since my husband died.
I walked slowly into that flooded house of grief. I sank. I came up for air. I sank again.
People all around me Accomplished. I read friends' Twitters: "Starting my new book!" and then a while later: "Finished my manuscript, off to my editor!" Friends went on book tour and hit bestseller lists. A close friend lost 30 pounds and became an athlete.
I took care of myself, took care of my daughter. I went to therapy and studied Kashmiri Shaivism and danced in women's dance circles and meditated and traded Life Coaching for manuscript review.
I refinanced the house and dealt with paperwork and pensions, I removed Bill's name from all the accounts, wincing as I erased him. I'm so sorry, Honey.
I relearned how to cook. Midwinter turned to spring and summer. I planted vegetables and some of them have grown.
I scandalized my friends. First by signing up for an online dating service -- I had this idea of a kind of grief-stricken promiscuity, because why not? To my shock, I found somebody smart, sexy, loving, kind. Searched for: roll in hay. Found: needle in haystack. And that's been even more scandalous: "Good god, Woman," my old high school friend said when I told her. "Your husband wasn't even cold in the grave!"
"It's not one or the other, I can hold it both," I told her. "And I do. Grief and happiness, all at once, I have that capacity now. Loving one doesn't mean not loving the other."
Sometimes the house still floods, the grief crashes over, I can't see, I can't talk, I can't breathe water. I miss him. I'm so sorry he died. What happened to my life? Then it relents a bit, pulls back.
I'm getting the house painted. Last week I started teaching again.
I still can't answer the hundreds of emails people have sent. A printout of my novel rides in the back of my car, and I haven't looked at it for months. I don't write anymore. I wonder what will bring me back to it, who I'll be when I return.
Next month I begin getting my back tattooed -- a flight of colorful butterflies from hip to shoulder.
I still haven't ordered his tombstone.