Friday, January 27, 2012

The Trade-Off

I read an interesting article this week that cited a survey done amongst widow(er)s who stated, almost unanimously, they would give up an entire year of their life for one more day with their deceased spouse.

At first, I found this statistic rather jarring.

I have no idea if they posed the question outright or if "one year" was simply one of the options to choose from, but I found the very idea bizarre. Had any of these widdas come up with that on their own? Is this part of the bargaining process we go through when we lose a spouse? Dear God, I promise to die a year earlier if I could just have one more day with my husband.

The thought had never really occurred to me before. Largely because my bargaining process went a little more like this: Dear God, thanks for nothing. Please help me survive this now. Help me find a way to pay next month's phone bill. Help me get to work without getting in an accident. Help me survive my coworkers and their misguided attempts at helping. Give me someone to talk to. I promise I'll stop hating everyone. Why did you do this to me? How could you? I hate you... no wait, I don't. Please don't smite me.

Suffice to say the idea of bargaining a little more time with Craig has been working it's way through my brain all week. What would I give up?

To throw a year out there seems almost too glib. Which year? The last year of my life (preferably at 95 or something) or some other random year? And is it unfair to A to throw out what could be one of our years together for someone who is already gone?

Then I thought, what would I do with that one day, anyhow?

I can't imagine taking Craig somewhere or trying to show him what my life is like now. What a waste of time.

Would I cook him dinner or would we go out for McDonald's just to keep things quick?

What would we talk about?

I think I realized I don't really have a whole day's worth of things to say to Craig anymore, assuming he'd just sit there patiently listening the entire time.

And I don't really have things to say.

More like yell.

I'd probably scream my head off at him for leaving me, for making everything so hard. For not paying more attention when he was driving. I'd probably interrogate him about what happened and then not even listen to what he was saying because it still makes me so mad. I'd yell at him for the family mess and everything that has happened with them since.

Somewhere among this obsessive train of thought I realized one very important thing:

I'm still pretty mad.

It's been almost 2 years and I love Craig as much as I ever did and want to yell at him as much as I did the first day. I kind of figured that would have changed by now.

Which inevitably brought me around to one rather depressing thought: How much have I healed, really?

Not nearly as much as I thought I would have.

And the only person that really leaves me mad at is me.

You see, Craig's death involved a lot of trade-offs. I had to swap out my job to go back to school. I have less debt but somehow more financial insecurity. I have a house but I lost our home. I have a new car but now I hate to drive.

I used to have a laundry list of things I wanted in my life that would make me "happy". Craig always gave me a hard time that for every thing on that list I checked off, I'd somehow find a new one to add on.

Now it seems I've checked the majority of those boxes (ok, I still haven't won the lottery) but that "happy" feeling is still eluding me.

And I think it's because I'm disappointed in myself at not getting as far as I'd planned.

I didn't quit my job because I found something better. I quit because my brain stopped working right and I couldn't stay sharp and focused anymore and it was only a matter of time before I flubbed something up beyond repair.

I went back to school but I stuggle with it constantly. It is too hard for me sometimes. Most times, in fact.

I still don't have it "emotionally together" and stay home at least a couple times a month because I just can't will myself to get out of bed and pretend to be a normal human.

I haven't finished my book, reached enlightenment, or changed the world.

I'm still carrying those extra pounds.

I'm still just boring old me, only slightly more defective.

This, more than anything, depresses me.

To think that my life was somehow traded for Craig's and I really haven't done much of anything with it. And the worst part of that is, I've been trying my hardest.

I know all about survivor's guilt - I'm a walking billboard for it. You will tell me that there was nothing I could do, that I couldn't trade places with Craig anyhow. Maybe you'll tell me it was his time to go, not mine. There is a greater cosmic plan at work.

You can tell me all these things.

But I can't make myself believe you.

Every day I walk around happy, I think perhaps I shouldn't be, it's not fair. Every time I try to achieve something, I drown in guilt that I should get something that he should have had. Every minute I get to keep going is a minute he didn't get.

I wish I had a magical answer or perhaps that awesome machine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where I could just brain wipe whatever sucked in my life. So I could unknow the things that make me immobile.

I think perhaps THAT would make me happy.


  1. Just like the title of your blog - "One Day at a time", you have almost approached 730 days, but who's to say that's all you needed? I lost my father almost 8 years ago, and I still get choked up when I smell his cologne, or hear his trademark cough. I know you have heard it a thousand times before that it's a process, and it'll take time, and I think as much as you might feel that you should be further along by now, if you re-read that very first post you made on here, you will see that you have gone through more in the last 2 years than most people do in 10. You are right where you need to be, and I don't think anyone in your position would have "done it better". You are impossibly strong even in your weakest moments, and in reading your blog and seeing what little bits of your journey I have - you amaze me.

  2. I love you.

  3. Iagree with Heather. You have done alot. You are moving forward em. You have brought me so many laughs, I can't imagine what this journey would have been like without your quick wit and sarcasm. The person we were is gone. We cannot fix it because you can't replace what we lost. That doesn't mean we can't live and build a new us. We had alot of years building who we were before we lost our spouse. We need to give ourselves some time to build the new us. :) I love you girl.


  4. The pain of missing a spouse who is gone would make so many give up so much just to see them again. But, it would never be enough. I think you have to try not to feel guilty for being alive and doing things. Guilt is so toxic and will hold you back. "Rome wasn't built in a day" and whilst mourning, just keeping one's head above water is progress.

  5. I'm glad you're posting again. Keep walking forward!
    I just came across a book that you might be interested in reading as you are on that path as well: "A Grace Disguised" by Jerry Sittser. A friend of mine wrote a good review:

  6. There is no advice or healing words I can say, except there was a slight typo... I think you misspelled "awesome".
    You are an incredibly beautiful, talented, witty and ridiculously intelligent woman. You are able to reach peoples hearts with your words. I know this to be true, because when I am around you or read your blog I feel so many emotions. I could go from balling my eyes out and depressed, to laughing my head off (and all in one sentence might I add).
    I know you're not going to believe me, that you're awesome (at this moment). My hope is that you one day realize it to be true, and that you deserve all the best in the world... it's just that the enemy is such a little F***er and screws up all the wonderful plans we have and distracts us from both the incredible things God gives us and how amazing we are created in Him. I say yell and scream at God, beg Him to smite you (He will not, cause He loves you). He has big shoulders, knows your heart and is wracking up a for every little thing that horned, red freak does to you and those you love... he will pay big time!!!
    I love you and am praying for you.
    (sorry for the language)