Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Heaviness of the Unexpected

Yesterday, I went to Giant grocery store across the street from my job to pick up some chips, dip, and dessert to bring to my friend Sarah's house for dinner. There's a pharmacy inside the store. The pharmacist called out to me, "Where's Rick been? He hasn't filled his prescriptions in a while." I stood very still, unable to speak for a moment. 

"He died," I said in a small voice.

Her hands flew to her mouth and she was struck silent for a moment herself. "I'm so, so sorry," she said. 

I willed myself not to start crying. "Thank you," I said. "It was just under two months ago."

She kept shaking her head. Her face was a little red. "I didn't know..."

"I know," I told her. "You couldn't. I didn't have a reason to call the pharmacy..."

"I didn't know he was sick," she said. My will was breaking down. I blinked a thousand times to keep back tears. "What happened?"

"It was suicide," I said. I looked her in the eyes, totally unafraid. Totally unashamed. She couldn't hold my gaze.

Her hands flew up to her mouth again. She kind of gasped. "I'm so, so sorry," she said again. "I don't even know what to say."

I used my catchphrase: "There's nothing to say. There is no wrong thing to say, because there is no right thing to say." I'm getting better at this "telling people" thing. I've added it to my assorted and random repertoire along with giving subcutaneous fluids to wiggly cats and putting up shelving units post-manicure. 

"I knew him for 13 years," the pharmacist said. "He used this pharmacy for 13 years."

I nodded. The pharmacist knew my husband longer than I did. I felt like I needed to share a length of time as well. "I was only with him for 7 years," I said.

She stumbled over the beginning of her sentence several times before finishing. "At least you had 7 years of good memories," she said. Not long enough. Never long enough. I wonder if that's what people think when they've been married for 60 years and a spouse dies. Probably. Still...


There was nothing left to say. I walked away. I imagined for a moment the countless times that scenarios such as this one will present themselves. The thought itself is enough to make a person stay home and never go anywhere local again. I hate the unpredictability...the unexpected surge of pain when I stand face to face with someone who knew Rick BUT DOES NOT KNOW. 

How can anyone not know? My whole life, my every day, is a heavy weight of sheer KNOWING. Waking up to the knowing. Going to sleep to the knowing. 

Every footstep forward is heavy with knowing. 

Since knowing is heavy, I focus on feeling lighter. Time with friends makes me lighter. Laughing with my mom makes me lighter. Snuggling the cats makes me lighter. But most of all...writing this blog makes me lighter. 

8 comments:

  1. Bless you, things will get better day by day, one breath at a time.

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  2. God bless you! You are helping people who are struggling with grieving to know they are not alone. I admire your strength. You are in my prayers.

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  3. Dear Arielle it would be really difficult running into to people that dont know and explaining what has happened each step you takes is heavy but your are working towards feeling that little bit lighter each and every day by snuggling with your cats laughing with your mom spending time with friends writing your blog just be the beautiful and amazing person that you are. sending love and hugs xxxx Ann richardson

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  4. God Bless You and your family !!!!

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  5. Dear Arielle, I apologize if my first comment was published and this is redundant. I was lead to your blog by a mutual friend Becky Moffitt...I met her online in a FB group QVC Addicts Friends. She said you were a wonderful woman and a writer. I encourage you to write as I can see you already know about the cathartic release. Our oldest son died in a one car accident 7 years ago when he fell asleep at the wheel. C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed: “I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they don't.” I can read your pain. It is as if our son was amputated from our family. Blessings. Your new reader, Sharon Lowe

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  6. God bless you! I lost my fiancé four months ago. It is unbearable at times. As hard as I try to get used to this new reality, it still doesn't seem real.

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  7. This is so bittersweet. It's been 6 years now since my mom died. People still call asking for her every once in a while and I have to tell them that she's no longer with us. Each time it feels like I've been punched in the gut. But it does get easier. I feel a lot less like a raw nerve dipped in salt. It's often comforting to look at the positive side and realize how amazing it is that we can touch so many peoples' lives sometimes just with our presence in this world without realizing it, even for the smallest things...a smile, a lifelong friend, or a routine pharmacy visit. People remember us for years after only meeting us once or seeing us every Saturday. Hang in there, Arielle. xoxo

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Help me feel less alone.