In the beginning, there is honestly no comfort at all. All of the wishes in sympathy cards and via emails or calls that you would feel comfort “in your memories” or “from God,” are completely hollow. There is no comfort. You sit feeling the most intense pain you’ve ever known, one you didn’t even know existed- and that is what you do- you feel it. There is no inebriate.
In those days, I was desperate for one though. I felt that surely someone, someone knew what would make this go away. I asked other young widows when it would lessen, hoping that they would say soon- hoping that even in those very early days and weeks, I had been through the worst- but I hadn’t. They would all simply tell me, “I’m sorry, but it’s going to be this way for a long time.” I would have a day with a few moments that were not overflowing with this searing pain and think perhaps I was stronger than those women and I was grieving faster. “Don’t be surprised if you take a few steps back tomorrow,” one of them told me. She was right. And then you get used to the pattern and know- you no longer trust those moments or days when you think, “Hey, I think I’m OK.”
Further along, there was still no comfort. I messaged with another young widow online asking her how I could keep doing this. “There’s nothing?” she asked. “What about chocolate or foods you like?” “No,” I answered. “Nothing tastes good to me.” I could not listen to music; I could not watch anything on television or a movie because I could not focus on anything but the loss for any length of time. Though I’d mostly steered completely clear of alcohol or any kind of medication, I had one glass of wine at a friend’s one night in those early weeks or months and found it made everything worse and more nightmarish. In short, there was nothing to dull the pain even slightly. Not alcohol, distraction, music, friends, food, Bible verses or God- not even poetry.
While I can’t say at one year all of that has changed and here is the neat resolution to my pain, I do acknowledge progress. I do feel comfort at times and happily accept it any way I can because I will take any brief reprieve that is offered me.
I can still remember the first time food tasted somewhat good again. A woman from our old church in Brooklyn came to visit a few months after you died, and she is a wonderful cook with gourmet tastes. She brought all of the fixings for sandwiches- prosciutto, cheese, good bread, olive spread, tomatoes, etc. We walked along the river and I ate it there. It tasted good. I was surprised. I ate the entire sandwich.
Today I take comfort in fresh brewed coffee with warm milk, the sound and scent of heavy downpours- thunder and lightening; I watch comedic Korean dramas because you laughed when you first came home one night to find me doing that and because they are funny. I take comfort in children’s books like the ones I read to Audrey about simple things like taking walks and coloring. It brings me comfort when I tickle Audrey on our bed until she giggles that really deep giggle. I like going to the library and find comfort in browsing and taking out a stack of books for myself with subjects ranging from art projects for preschoolers to the new book by Oliver Sacks. I especially take comfort in sitting on the bus or ferry terminal reading a memoir on someone else’s grief. The articulation in words of this thing by someone else is comparable to wrapping up in warm down blanket on a cold day. I take comfort in cards and emails from both friends and strangers, in dancing to kids music with Audrey, and leaving my kitchen clean each night. I take comfort in staring at a rhinoceros at the zoo- marveling at all of the creatures that live here with us that we hardly see in real life, or reading about the vastness of outer space. I take comfort in baths that are so hot they’re hard to get into, potato chips, and root beer, fresh flowers, and gusty winds against my face. I take comfort in sitting on the balcony at night in my pajamas looking at the sky and the steep cliff of houses before me, remembering how you said it looked like the backdrop of an indie film. Yes, I think- you were right about that.
And I think for the first time, when I cry for you each day