Six months ago today, I woke up a widow. (Be warned that this post is not going to get any happier from here.)
Things since then that should have been major life changes--moving, graduating, complete change of job responsibilities at work, an ER visit--they feel pretty superficial by comparison. (Just for fun, I took a look at the stress scale thing. You don't want to know what my score is.)
I've stopped dreaming about Chadwick for now, and getting out of bed in the morning has gotten easier than it was. I still have an irrational fear of losing someone else at any moment. I don't know what to do when one of his favourite songs pops up on the radio. I've found out just how many times a day I think about something I'd like to tell him when I realise halfway through reaching for my phone that there's no one there. There's still a chance every minute that I'll suddenly need to stop what I'm doing and lay on the floor and cry.
I can't stop staring at his last tweet. And when I close my eyes at night, I still see him laying on the floor where I found him that morning.
On the other hand, I've gotten very good at controlling my emotions, and mostly don't cry in public. Apparently I've been fooling even my good friends into thinking that I'm happier/stronger/more resilient/insert adjective here than I really am. I have a squadron of said good friends who are on call for bizarre tweets or ranty texts or incoherent Facebook messages at all reasonable hours, and even some unreasonable ones. (Thanks, y'all!) I try to vary which friend I'm emptying my brain onto from one day to the next so no one has to hear all of it.
Theatrical therapy (mostly) helps. Friends help. Throwing myself into goofy musical-based craft projects and stalking Broadway & West End actors on Twitter sort of helps. (You know, until they start tweeting about how awesome all their significant others are.) Listening to the Next to Normal soundtrack on endless repeat helps way more than it should, but I'm not about to walk away from something that works this well just because it's not quite an apples-to-apples metaphor for my own life. (Incidentally, that's where today's post title comes from. It's a pretty sweary musical, so don't click if you're easily offended.)
One of Chad's favourite songs was "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." (This is one of those facts I have to be careful of mentioning to people, because it's an intensely sad-making thought if you dwell on it for a second.) I think he would have loved seeing the version currently on Broadway. I saw it for both of us, but sometime in the next weeks and months and years I'll stop doing things for both of us. One day I'll wake up and realise I'm doing things for just me. I don't know if I'm dreading or welcoming that day. I probably won't know until I'm on the other side of it.
I'm still standing. I'm holding on. I won't let go.