Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nine months: Birthing loss

A slightly different version of this post was published on Kevin's Caringbridge page. You can find other grief musings there as well as the posts related to his illness.

Today is nine months. I feel like I am birthing loss. His matter has now been gone for as long as it took to assemble it.

I have gotten through his birthday and mine, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In front of me is New Year's Eve and Day then the landmarks related to diagnosis, illness, death.

This time a year ago I was so worried about him, so afraid it was something serious. I knew it was serious though three doctors told us it wasn't. We still slept in the same bed, still touched, talked, laughed... I was so worried and he was in so much pain. Here I am now. Birthing a life I never wanted. Nine months ago I woke holding his hand. Today I woke holding a pillow. Nine months ago my focus was entirely in one small room utterly honed. Today my focus is diffuse, though that's not the right word.

I am so grateful to my family, both by birth and by accident. The kids and I are close. I am very lucky, I hear so many stories about step-families that don't survive the loss of the connecting thread. I am so grateful to my friends, known and unknown. I wish I was who I was and could be the kind of friend I used to be.

I find myself in a neutral land now. For a long time I was living with an internal landscape of bleak desolation, bombed destruction. Now it is blank. Lifeless but no longer just rubble. No green, no growth but less destruction. An unending road in a featureless land. I know this is probably progress, but in ways it feels worse. I am so afraid I will forget him; the desolation was full of memories, this landscape is as unmarked as fresh asphalt. I know this won't happen, I know I will remember, but this knowledge doesn't stop the fear.

I am certainly more functional than I was 9 months ago. I am birthing a new self. This new me feels diminished, but I know she is all I have now. I am amputated but learning to function without. I don't like writing about myself, I'd rather write about him, but I'm not sure what to say anymore.

Kevin was the best of what I am. He made me better as he made all of us better. I don't like writing of him in the past tense because for me he is still very present. I talk with him all the time. Sometimes he talks back. I live in a world of our mutual creation, only I have lost the map. But he is still with me in every breath. I sleep with pillows at my back so some of his warmth is reflected back to me.

Nine months to assemble, nine months gone and I remind myself that in every breath I inhale molecules he exhaled. I remind myself that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. I remind myself that he lives on in all of us.
Cold comfort but something.
Not always and never what I crave.
I would trade everything for him back, for one more touch, one more chance to tell him how much I love him. I still love him.

And I love you. I hope you all are well, that you have had holidays surrounded by love and light. I wish you the best for the coming year. Please keep in touch. Thank you for reading, for being my unseen companions through this place. Thank you.

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Beautiful! Each sentence holds a world. This shows me so much than I fully got about the world of such grief. Much love to you too.

  2. Yes indeed-birthing loss is a good term for what we are enduring.
    I got through Christmas- it sucked pretty much for me but that's ok.
    I am glad it's over. Grief is not an event - it's a process - as you know.

    Dec 27th was the 9th month anniversary of my husband Alan's death.
    Last January Alan got sick-yes Alan got sick last Jan 21st.
    He went into the hospital feb 11th got diagnosed feb 14th. came home March 20th and died March 27th. So
    now I have New Years and all those anniversary dates to get his birthday will be Feb 2nd.

    We had no idea any of this crap was coming.
    Life can turn on a dime and disaster/death can strike.
    Enjoy every moment is what I tell people now - we never know what is coming.

    Christmas was Alan's fav/busiest time of year.
    He was a musician and he played many rehearsals, free concerts and jobs during Nov and Dec. So the Christmas season and music will
    always be a painful reminder of what I no longer have : the pleasure of sharing Alan's joy in music at Christmas. sucks.


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