Maybe the last about Janice

I was talking to a friend recently about grief. His girlfriend committed suicide several years ago, and he’s still dealing with it. I suppose suicide colors everything, though I have no clue how, and even if I knew I wouldn’t know what that meant to the people affected, each of us being unique and all.

His lover died quickly and unexpectedly; my wife died slowly and predictably—way different experiences for all concerned, and still the ragged holes left by their exits are remarkably similar. The world seems incomplete.

Of course, the world is always complete and changing continuously. It’s just that right in through here my world includes an unpredictable feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, like anticipating something that’s already over.

Several times a day I’ll read something or think of something that I want to tell Janice or show her or ask her about, and I can’t. I remember right away that I can’t ever see or touch her again, and that can take some time. If I’m thinking about something else—or, better yet, not thinking at all—I’m not remembering and feeling sad about her pegging out. I guess if my memory were better I wouldn’t forget that she’s not here and then have to remember it over and over and be suddenly sad over and over.

I know that Janice is fine, that her essence is ebullient and joyful. We shared that certainty, and that thought, no matter how certain, is nothing like having a real human right here for a long time and then gone. Her stuff is all over the place and there’s nobody to ask what ought to happen to it. I pick up a likely pile of apparently random papers and folders and want to ask Janice what to do with it and then all over again I have to remember she’s dead.

I’ve nearly finished with the paperwork of dying, toting around the death certificate or faxing it somewhere and signing here and initialing there and, “I’m sorry for your loss.” “Me too.”

The day before she died was the first time she was unresponsive to me. Her vitality had been diminishing for months, faster lately. She hadn’t said much for a couple of weeks, sometimes a word in my ear I could make out, no more.

Near the end I thought I could still tell what she wanted. She had no words and didn’t need them. Sometimes I think maybe I was fooling myself at the end, and she was miserable and a captive to my incompetence. I don’t think that often, which is just as well.

Posted Thursday, December 20th, 2012 under death, Janice, perspective, Uncategorized.

One comment so far

  1. Thank you my friend. Your story caused me a profound emotional experience. Of course I sympathize with you but as usual I am more concerned about myself. I take for granted the presence of my 50+ year marriage partner. Your story made me realize I would go through your experience myself if she “goes first”. I easily pictured myself in a state of shock as I called out to say something to her in the other room and suddenly remembered she wasn’t there and wouldn’t be there anymore. The finality of death parting is so … sorry I can’t finish this thought. I lost a dear friend several yeas ago and when I realize I wont see him again, it always comes to me like a shock with a whole set of emotions. Thank you for helping me to better appreciate the treasure I possess.

    You have a talent for making the human experience come alive and the courage to set it to print.

    Jim Adams

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