People tell you a lot of things when someone close to you dies. They have the best of intentions-I have no doubt about that, but everyone’s experience is different. I’ve learned that these past 38 days. Can you ever be ready for such a horrific event? Can you prepare to watch the one person you are closest to die? I don’t think so. But what you learn is that part of grief is going through a series of firsts.
The first morning. The night Evan died I was terrified to fall asleep. I dreaded that moment waking up and realizing what had happened. That he was gone. I wrote a song in 2007 when I recorded my album called In My Dreams. It’s about this exact moment. When you’ve lost someone and you WANT to fall asleep because you hope they will come to you in your dreams and hang out and in that moment just as you wake up they are there with you and you are conscious of it. I went back the next day and listened to it as though I’d written it for Evan…maybe I did. I was happily married when I wrote it. But this time I didn’t want to fall asleep. I stayed up as late as I could and someone fed me a sleeping pill and I slept. Heavy. Funny thing is as I came awake I was fully aware that Evan was gone-in fact I’d been dreaming about it. So there wasn’t the expected jolt. I was still devastated but I’d made it through my first in my series of firsts.
The first time I drove my car. I had NO choice because my daughter had needed to use it for a few days (I have my limits and driving my car after what had happened in it wasn’t something I was ready to face). I dreaded the moment I slid into the driver’s seat and looked instinctively to my right. Of course memories flooded in but I sat there breathing and just allowed myself to be in that space. As I allowed that moment I felt him with me-smiling and loving. And I started the car as “All of Me” came on the radio.
The first time I did the show without him was one week from his passing. Beautiful Danielle had arrived from Hawaii the day before to attend his Celebration of Life-a virtual stranger who breezed into our dark, sad little home and brought the sun with her. A Reiki Master (I highly recommend her) she introduced an energy of healing that felt like a cooling salve on a sunburn. As I prepared to do what would be one of the most difficult but most rewarding shows we’d done, my heart was heavy as I imagined being on that red couch without my partner. Without the comic relief that was/is Evan. All day I played the scene out in my head. But as we prepared for the show Danielle came and sat on the couch in Evan’s spot. I looked at her and said “Well, if you’re gonna sit there, here’s a headset-do some radio with us!”. She did. And before the show started we moved the whole thing to the back porch-that was new. Daniel, Sandy and Brenna all came outside too and I was flanked by love. The show was beautiful (yeah THAT one I keep mentioning).
The first time I watched The Walking Dead took until the second week-I had it recorded of course. For some reason the house was empty and I sat on the couch thinking about it. I decided to face it and watch. I sat on the couch instead of my bed and asked Evan to come watch with me. I turned it on with that all to familiar lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and it started to play. As the show went on I felt better and better. I could do this. Another first down.
Waffle house was the hardest first I’d say. We’d go every Sunday morning as I talked about in previous blogs and it was so special to us. Evan’s roommate Dave said he wanted to go with me and I decided to go last Sunday. I cried the entire way there as Evan put special songs on the radio one after the other. My awful GPS took me the route that went straight past his development-I was trying to avoid this. By the time I realized it I was practically there. So I went with it. Passed his house. The last time I drove that exact route was to drive him to the hospital. Again, I felt calm and peaceful and just allowed that moment. I talked to Evan as I drove. As I got there I found myself easing into the moment without feeling overly sad. There were a few tears at the beginning and then Dave and I spent an hour or so with the staff and talking about cool things Evan. It felt great.
There have been hundreds of firsts since March 2, 2014 and there will be hundreds more. But you know what the common denominator with each one is? My thought process. See it was the anticipation that was causing pain. I THOUGHT it would be painful and awful. But each time as I actually experienced it I found peace and love-not more pain. If anything less pain. People tell me I’m brave, I’m strong. Maybe I am. But to me it’s more a matter of choosing to experience something rather than dread it. The dread is FAR worse then the actual experience! Who knew.
Rumor has it that my house will close today at 3:00 on April 10th. LOL…that would be funny and so Evan. If it doesn’t that’s ok. It’s been this long in coming a few more days won’t be that big a deal…but I kind of hope it does. 10 was our sign to each other and 3’s are Evan’s sign that he’s around.
So ask yourself today “what am I avoiding because I don’t want to face the emotion?” Then promptly put on your big girl/boy pants and do it. Right meow. You may be surprised at how cathartic it is and how much you are blessed as a result.
So here’s to our series of firsts in this life. They help shape us and mold us into what we came here to be. Amazing.
This is just the beginning… #EWM333