The Big Empty

November 24, 2005

Today has been filled with a hollow rushing noise in the space of my heart that Michele filled. I have felt disconnected and apart from everything going on around me, almost as if it was happening to someone else. Michele and I both loved turkey and the ritual of having roasted turkey for dinner. Not being able to fulfill that ritual this year is very hard. Every day is hard, but some days are more poignant than others.

Even as I struggle to deal with the heightened sense of loss this evening I am painfully aware that her birthday and Christmas are bearing down on me like a run away freight train. There is nothing I can do to prepare myself for those events and no way to stop them from occurring. I thought that spending today with friends and their family would make it better, and while it filled the moments, it served more as a painful reminder that they all had something I could not - a loved one to share the day with.

Looking ahead to Christmas I am now strongly leaning towards spending that weekend by myself. I want to be free to do what ever I need, to express whatever is in my heart in the moment without reservation or fear of judgement. Whether others feel this way towards me or not, I feel stigmatized now. I feel as if I alter the setting for any gathering just by my presence. So I end up trying to fade into the woodwork or join in as if I am not screaming on the inside. I end up taking care of my perception of their needs rather than meeting my own.

So for Christmas I want to be by myself. I want to bake Michele one last birthday cake, and make a casserole of beanie weenies with mustard and brown sugar. I want to sing her happy birthday. And I want to bawl my eyes out. Christmas morning I want to watch our favorite holiday movies and eat too many chocolate cookies with eggnog.

What I have come to realize today is that saying good bye to a beloved partner happens over and over again. The annual touchstones that made up your year together are each cause for fresh sorrow and each deserve their own measure of grief. On this Thanksgiving day I am grateful for having share an incredible love affair with Michele. I am also thankful for coming to a new understand about how I need to care for myself as I make way way around our sun for the first time alone.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.