Two years ago, I tried to choke down the breakfast that my big sister had made for me. She knew I would need some strength to face the day.
We were about to bury Greg.
I vividly remember standing in my living room and telling her that I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to go. I didn't want it to be real. If we buried him, he wasn't coming back. If we buried him, I would really have to say goodbye.
I remember very little from that day: My mom and sister lovingly cleaning my car and putting flowers on the dashboard. Watching a group of close friends arrive in their cars and join the procession. Getting hugs from Greg's pallbearers. Sitting socially distanced with masks on in a type of mental fog that I only now recognize as acute grief.
We said goodbye. I watched it all as if it was a movie instead of my real life. I was so numb. In so much shock.
I always wondered how people could survive watching a loved one die or burying a spouse. Now I've done both. And I don't have the answer. Just that you survive because you survive. You heart keeps beating and your lungs keep expanding. You enter into a state of shock that is your survival because feeling the full weight of grief would be far too much. The only thing I know now is that if you just keep going to bed and waking up, if you just do the next thing - even if the next thing is to lock your bedroom door, pull the shades, and sob until you can't sob anymore - you somehow survive the days, the weeks, and now... and I can't believe this is true... the years.
Today marks two years since we buried Greg. 730 days. How can that possibly be?
I was so scared to face the reality of Greg's death the day we buried him. What I didn't know is that the reality would unravel very, very slowly. Two years later, I am still trying to comprehend it all. I am still facing the reality that he is gone.
People have differing opinions about which year of grief is worst. Some say the first year; others the second. For one of my widowed friends, it was the third.
For me, the past two years have been hard beyond words, in different ways.
Year one was grappling with the reality that Greg was gone. Year two was facing the horrible truth that he wasn't coming back. I have no idea what's in store for year 3.
I don't feel the constant, physical, painful, sickening ache and awareness of his absence each moment of every day like I used to, but I do still feel it at different points every single day. Maybe that will lessen over time or maybe it won't. I don't really need it to in order to be okay.
I don't know much, but I do know that God's grace is far more sufficient than I ever could've imagined. I know that I am far weaker than I ever feared that I was. I know that no matter what comes ahead, God will somehow, mysteriously, carry me through - even if it is just one breath at a time.