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Checking In

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.

Comments
11 Comment count
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Hi Ericka,

My heart goes out to you in your grief and heartbreak. I am certain that in the same position as yourself, I would have gone mad and not returned from that darkness at all. Your ability to put how you feel into words never ceases to amaze me or move me. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

 I celebrate your happiness too. How fortunate to find someone who can make you smile between the times of darkness. I wish you the very best, most sincerely. Ryoma

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Beautiful, as always. Six

Beautiful, as always. Six months is a watershed. You'll write again, I know you will. You just did.

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Writing

That was what came to my mind as well, Vicki. A writer writes. What and how and why isn't as important as the act.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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milestone

I've been thinking of you a lot lately as this six-month mark came. You're writing so beautifully and hope you keep sharing it with us.

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The Beautiful Contradictions

We do hold grief and love at once. And there's the Talmudic injunction: "Choose Life."
That's what you're doing.

And as your friends here have noted, you are writing.

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Ericka, just yesterday I was

Ericka, just yesterday I was thinking about you--well, to be honest, you and Pat Montandon, who had major heart surgery a couple months ago--wondering when I'd log into RR and see a blog by either of you.

I am happy for the update and wish you happiness, always.

One finds love when and where one finds it. A few years ago, a happily married friend of mine died after a long battle with breast cancer. Her husband was remarried within a year. Some were shocked, but he explained it much as you just did. Plus, he was in his 60s. . .is there really time to wait, if you know you are with the right person?

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Looking forward to seeing

Looking forward to seeing you soon, and hearing more of this "scandalous" life, which it isn't. It's life and it's good.

Best,

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan
www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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lovely

Ericka,

Beautiful, as always. Congratulations on the new romance, and even bigger congratulations on expressing your grief in so poignant a manner, yet again. I think of you now and then, wondering. It's always lovely to find an update from you.

May you and Annie have continued strength in the process.

Katie Burke

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I've never stopped

thinking of you these many months. I keep coming back to this time last year when we were full on in the contest to bring in new readers. I wish I could turn back the world for you.

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Great to hear from you, Ericka! And thanks for sharing.

You are blessed with the gift of taking life by the scruff of the neck and knowing how to Live it. That's not so common. You and Annie are still on my prayer list.

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Thank you.

For your thoughts and prayers and comments! It's amazing to disappear this long and come back -- and here's the warm Red Room community, still here, right where I left you all.

Ryoma - yes, you would come back from the darkness. Life has a relentless pull on the living. Vicki and Huntington, I'm not sure how the writing will manifest now. But I'm not beating myself up over it. Marilyn and Ellen and Jessica and Katie, thank you for the support about the love thing. Caroline and Belle and Rosy, your words cheer me. I've missed you all.