So my posts are getting a little less frequent…and maybe that presents as a good thing to the outside observer. Perhaps it seems as though I have a better handle on things and that I don’t need this outlet to express myself as much. Wrong. Things have been exceptionally hard and painful this past week. I don’t know if it’s another layer of the “numb” thawing out or if I’m finally giving myself permission to feel what I’ve been repressing for the better part of the last seven weeks, but grief has definitely settled in to my soul and it looks like it’s here for an extended visit. Super awesome.
I won’t lie, I’ve had multiple moments where I want to just quit. I’m done feeling miserable and I’m tired of the pain. I’ve even said the words “I just want to go to sleep and not wake up” out loud. To more than one person. That is so not me, I am not a quitter – I was born to endure. I have no idea who this person is that has taken over my body and my mind but I do not recognize her. No need to call any hotlines for me, by the way. I have a strong support system and I’m not going anywhere. I just feel the need to be open and honest about everything that I am feeling during this process.
Speaking of not knowing who I am – I realized just the other day that on top of the grief and sadness and loss and abandonment that I am experiencing, I am also finding myself in the midst of an identity crisis. Yep. Crisis indeed. I was going through a very similar crisis when I met Joshua. I had been in school for somewhere around 20 years and I had no idea who I was without the identity of “student” attached to me. I’m pretty sure I replaced student with supportive girlfriend, then fiancée and then wife. So now, once again, I am searching for an identity. I’m hopeful this time that I’ll simply be able to “find myself” without attaching myself to a label. I might even get to the point where I like (or, dare I say it, even love) who I am.
But for now that is a thing of fairytales and I am almost literally drowning in the sea of the unknown. I’m being pulled down by the current day after day, some days deeper than others, but I see no end in sight. I’m grateful for the life preservers that I can cling on to, but I know that the only person with enough strength to pull me to shore is myself. Some day, I’ll get there.
Anyway, I wanted to get this post written as a positive message….so now that we have gotten the Debby Downer updates out of the way, I want to talk about signs from the great beyond.
Before I say my piece, I’d like to preface this by saying that you are more than free to believe as you wish. I’m not 100% sold on the idea myself, but please don’t jump in the comments with your rational explanations for what I am seeing and experiencing. I need to believe that this is my husband communicating with me. It’s sometimes the only thing that will get a smile on my face throughout the day. I cannot accept that all there is to life is our physical presence in the world. What’s the fun in that?
It took a while but I am slowly starting to see signs of Josh’s continued presence in my life. I still don’t feel him around and I still haven’t had the vivid dreams that people keep telling me about, but I am getting a few things. I’m sure to some people I will sound like a wackadoo and that I’m grasping at straws, but in my desperation, I will hold on tightly to anything that I receive. I do not and will not believe that he would just leave me alone to fend for myself forever. He may not have always had the kindest words, but his actions frequently showed that he really cared.
One of the first things to happen has happened only once and I thought for a minute that maybe I was losing it. I very briefly but very distinctly smelled the burnt scent of unlaundered turnouts. If you have never smelled the residual effects of fighting a fire, trust me this is an extremely distinct scent. I was in bed, awake in the middle of the night after 3-5 hours of sleep which has become the new norm for me when I smelled it. I used to help Josh wash his turnouts when he was in fire academy and occasionally after that, so I’m very familiar with the smell. And while I can’t say it is the most pleasant, it brought me great joy to remember my husband through that moment.
Another consistent event is seeing my birthday everywhere. I’m so happy to know he remembers it! Haha. But at least one time per day it will present itself to me. Usually it’s on the clock. For some reason, I frequently feel the need to check the time at 8:24. Sometimes it will be the total at a restaurant or grocery store. It’s even shown up as the date that an interesting article that I come across was published. Every time it happens, I just shake my head and smile.
The most frequent and consistent “message” that I am given, however, is seeing hawks. I know they aren’t uncommon around here, I’m not that dense. Josh used to always point them out when we would drive past them. They fascinated him in a way that I cannot explain, but now understand. The first time I noticed this message was seeing one perched on a sign exiting the expressway heading to my new home. It seemed so out of place to be sitting there like that. Since then, I ask Josh to send me them sometimes and I usually see multiple in a day. The other day at work one flew right by our windows. I didn’t tell anybody what it meant to me to see it, we all just marveled at the fact that it was so close to our building. Today I saw four of them. Four. What? The first one came when I was walking on a hiking trail with my dad and some of his friends. The next two popped up on the drive home when I was having some negative self-talk discussions in my head (sorry J – I’ve always been hard on myself, you know that!). The last one was what really put me over the edge, though. This guy was huge. My dad pointed him out to me because he had watched him fly up onto the light post. Want to know where he was? Chillin’ outside the fire station closest to my dad’s house.
I cannot make this stuff up.
Call me crazy, but even in the middle of my suffering, I am using this communication to keep me going. Every time I experience one of these events, I get the opportunity to talk to my husband because I know he is there at that moment. I say to him, “Okay! I don’t know how you did that, but I saw it. Thank you.” And sometimes I tell him about how much I miss him, sometimes I yell at him for not being here, sometimes I talk about the hurt and the fear that this situation has made me face…but I always, always, always tell him that I love him. Because I do. And I hope he never, ever doubts that.