Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 28: Sudden Death = Unresolved Things

March 28, 2014

I think it's important to say that when there's a sudden death, there may have been unresolved things happening between you and the person at the time. My friend shares of having angry words with her mother right before her mother died in a car accident. Another friend was divorced from her ex-husband who died suddenly, but still had tremendous love for him. Gareth was a complex man- bright, joyful and amazingly connected in his best moments, and exceedingly difficult in his darker moments. Those who were here and experienced it all with me know that in the weeks leading up to his death I had delivered an ultimatum that wasn't met. He wanted to. Desperately. I know that. But he couldn't.

This complexity has done a couple things. It's certainly complicated the grief. It's come with an incredible amount of guilt that I can intellectually pass off, but not emotionally. It's made it tricky to publicly celebrate all that was good without some wondering if I'm in denial about the tough parts. Or talk about all that was a struggle without forgetting that in its essence, our relationship was full of love and ridiculously fun times.

The truth is there are many layers. The layers start with two people falling in love with each other. Connecting. Finding in one another a true partner and an incredible match. The layers include days and months and over a year of a love that was palpable- seen and experienced by everyone who saw us, either in person or through photos and videos. The layers include care and deep concern for watching the man I love in times of suffering and an admission that not only could I not fix that, but that I needed to step away if he were to get any real help. The layers include the fact that my stepping away caused such deep grief, on both parts- but that I dove into connecting with others and self-care and he did not. The layers include a last few weeks of Gareth desperately doing everything he could to not feel pain and this contributed to his death, no doubt.

There it is. Messy. Tangled. One string leads to another which is wound and tied up in a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. And the whole knotted ball of it is filled with amazing memories, desperate missing of the man I love more than any other, fleeting feelings of guilt and responsibility, a knowledge that I was without a doubt the love of his life, and an understanding of my powerlessness in the situation, both when he was alive and after he died.

I post this to claim it. And I post it to help with those who have had similar situations at the time someone is quickly taken from your life. I believe in my heart Gareth knows he was loved deeply and that he is forgiven for anything he may have said or done that came from a place of being wounded. I spoke of these things to him in those 4 days in the hospital and I believe in some way he heard me.

This is also why I refused to leave him in those days. If he had any feelings that he was abandoned by me, I wanted him to know that it wasn't happening then. In no way would I leave his side until his family arrived and in no way would he feel that I wasn't right there to help him through this part of his journey. "I won't leave you, babe," I told him. "I'm here. I'm right here. And I'm not going anywhere." And I didn't.

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