Rose & Jack
I see it every time I look in the mirror. I have aged A LOT in the last 15 months. Wow! All that frowning and crying have really paid off for the grim reaper. My eyes are puffy, actually my whole face is puffy, my skin looks sallow, EVERYTHING is sagging.
Maybe it’s my outlook and not my actual face. Maybe I just see the tired sad reflection because that’s how my mind feels. This is something a makeover or massage absolutely will not cure.
So, I was carrying my aging face around the house one day and I looked up at this beautiful, framed, photograph of Pete that is in my dining room, and it hit me—I am going to keep getting older and Pete is not. I was fully aware that I was going to go on living longer than he did, but it had never occurred to me that I was going to continue to age and he was not. WE were not frozen in time. He was.
Even though Pete had a congenitally bad heart and lived from the benefit of a heart pump, and even though he’d had a stroke, we lived like we would grow old together. We even spoke about it—acknowledging that the reality was that I would likely outlive him, but that we would push that aside and move toward the future as if nothing was looming over us. I know that all married couples discuss and picture growing old together. Now I understand it better. No one of us wants to actually grow old (aka feel old, look old) without dragging the other one along with us.
All I can picture is Rose from the film “Titanic.” She’s staring at a photo of Jack with her gnarled hands holding the frame. Everyone around her is thinking “Wow, she looks old. How could she have ever been young enough to be with that guy.” Or sometimes I picture a woman in her 70’s staring at a handsome soldier—her husband—who died in the war.
On September 18, 2016, I officially became older that Pete. That was the day that I turned 55, and he will always be 54. It’s okay for now. 15 months difference isn’t the end of the world, but someday soon the gap will be huge, and the thought of that scares me. I honestly don’t know what to do with this ever-unfolding new reality and its daily challenges, and for now, that’s okay. There’s no perfect way to grieve and the pain of aging without Pete by my side is just one of those things for which there is no resolution.
How do you cope with the seemingly insurmountable?