The first year after losing my beautiful husband to suicide has passed. I made it. Some days I honestly didn’t think I would. It is so very difficult to be alive some times when you’re constantly asking yourself “what if”, “why” and trying to believe it never happened.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is how it will be for me. I can only hope for distractions. I knew the one year mark would be a difficult time and thought it would be best to ask everyone to NOT text, email, call etc…(It was hit and miss as I knew it would be). Every other person in my support group warned me that having people basically sending condolences on the year mark makes things worse. Like I don’t now what effing day it is.
So I sought out my own distraction.
I left the continent.
I went to Spain
I went to school.
I went to school in Spain.
What better way to distract oneself than to attend an intensive Spanish course in Barcelona? I’m sure there are better ways, but I am more than happy with my decision. Yeah, I said it. Happy.
There were chocolate croissants and café on every corner. I took salsa lessons to keep up with my dancing. There is no bad red wine in Spain.
For long stretches, I actually forgot the misery of the wandering mind and I didn’t have to fake it. I was actually the real kinda happy, and happily distracted. Of course, in between those moments was the acute awareness of why I was in Spain. To forget. To escape. The suicide.
I just read a quote in a book I’m reading on the plane: “memories are the things you want to forget”… I agree.
John had been to Barcelona and I saw the same things he saw. I wondered on occasion if he had he walked on this street, or maybe that one? Did he get turned around in the Gothic quarter? Did he eat at this cafe? Did he have a wine at this bar? I’ll never know.
More than once, I looked at the beauty in that city and welled up with tears, but I never bawled, wishing so much that he could see it with me. Wishing he was with me, wishing that I could tell him about what I saw that day. Oddly, I haven’t had a real cry for 17 days. I need one. My goal for tonight when I get home is actually to cry. You’re never really alone in Barcelona. Streets are full, cafés are busy, and my room – which I was never in – was tiny, next to another student’s room and the window opened up to the elevator shaft that doubled as an echo chamber/courtyard to about 20 other tiny apartments. I could hear the hustle of other lives carrying on, watching TV, discussing the Catalan vote, yelling at their kids to set the table, and the clank of dishes. These families were all blissfully unaware that the world lost a great person a year ago.
I’m sure someone has felt incredible loss in that group, but I feel alone at times; like there isn’t anyone that has lost anyone like I have. I know that’s not true, but it’s a feeling that is there. I visited the make shift memorial to those lost in the terror attack on Las Ramblas. Here was loss staring at me in the face with candles, flowers, teddy bears and notes. I still felt alone. I absolutely felt empathy and heartbreak, but I still felt like my hurt was worse, because John was someone so special.
I ate wonderful food, I drank great wine, I bought fabulous Spanish made shoes, and yes, I studied a lot, too. I’m enjoying my newfound language skills (albeit they are that of a drunk 3 year old right now) and I will continue with the Hablo-ing of the Español.
John was a silly guy at times and used to say he could speak fluent Spanish by simply putting an ‘O’ at the end of everything. Silly Behr.
I’m not a very religious person, but I lit candles for him at many churches. It just felt right.
I talked to him on my 20 km strolls (fantastic metro system, but a very walkable city and something beautiful to see at every turn. Ended up giving my leftover metro ticket to a clerk at the airport).
I know everyone says “he is there with you, all the time”. Lo siento. No, he’s not. He’s gone and I will never get him back. They say that because they don’t want him to be gone, either. I wish he was with me. If he was with me, I wouldn’t be so sad all of the time.
I am glad I went away, and I may escape every year. It is not because of him I left, but I guess I’m trying to honour him in someway. I can’t explain it, really.
As much as I would like to ball up and stay at home and fade away, I know he’d say “get-o off-o your butt-o” … Or something like that.
I will miss the distraction of the school and the heartbeat of the city but I’m glad to be heading home, to sleep in my own squishy cuddle bed (yes: mine, not “ours” anymore) and I’m looking forward to kitty snuggles.
I feel like something has shifted in me, and I don’t know what it is. Nor do I know if it’s good or bad. Maybe it’s just a page turning.
What I know for sure, is now I miss him in three languages.
Tomorrow is my runniversary. Which means it’s also my wedding anniversary… I’ll be out there running for a while.