This morning was one of those days. It was one of those days when I woke up and I wasn’t a widow. I woke up and Paul was alive. No, not in any reality that exists in the known world, but in my dreams. Paul was alive in my dreams; he was alive in one of those horrible, taunting, heart-wrenching widow dreams.
My widow dreams are not as regular as they once were, which is to be expected after more than 11 years of widowhood. But they are still upsetting, no matter how much time has passed. And whilst sometimes those widow dreams bring me wonderful moments of joy in the moments between sleep and awake, so many times they bring me grief.
That was the case with today’s dream when I learned that, after all these years, Paul was alive and well, working in a shop just a mile or so from my office.
When I walked into the shop and saw him standing there, I froze. I couldn’t understand what was happening. How could Paul be there when I saw him die; when I buried him and have grieved for him all these years? Yet there he stood, unbothered about my levels of emotion – from joy to anger and everything else in between.
I can’t recall the conversations we had at that moment, but I remember that he was willing to start “dating” again. It was as if the last eleven and a half years were nothing to him; he was acting as if we had only seen each other the day before and that the stress was merely down to a minor argument. And there I was, filled with equal parts of confusion and rage that the love of my life had put me through so much grief. But at the same time, I was willing to do anything just to have him back. I was willing to forgive anything just to have him with me again.
The details beyond that are all so fuzzy now as the “plot” from today’s dream seems to be blurring into the plots of so many dreams that have come before. But the emotional aftermath is crystal clear: I feel hurt and abandoned and unloved and unwanted and worthless to the man I always thought would love me forever.
The details are gone, but the heartache will echo for days to come… even though I know that he would never have abandoned me and even though I know that he loved me, wanted me, and valued me. But dreams thrive on fear and weakness, so they try to harness the loneliness I feel.
It’s frustrating that these dreams still haunt me, but I am thankful that they are relatively rare these days. But as I’ve said before in an analogy in the past about widowhood being akin to an amputation, these dreams serve as a reminder that no matter how far forward I travel on this path of grief, there will always be moments when I relive the pain all over again.
I know that tomorrow will be better. And I know that in a couple of days I will have mostly forgotten about this bump in the road. But today hurts just that little bit because I am reminded more than normal that my beloved is not here to grow old with me. Today hurts because it’s yet another reminder that I walk this world without Paul.
Life goes on, but so does the grief. And that is just the way of the world.
(Please don’t worry about me: This will not drag me down. Today’s upset will add to tomorrow’s strength. And writing it down helps with that process.)