One gets the impression that the most defining moments in one’s life are accompanied by bells and whistles. One expects a production, flashes of light, big ‘Aha!’ moments with a witness or more. But I got partially disabused of that notion when my husband died, on a day that started pretty much like any other.
The day he died, hours before I found him gone, I had just come to the conclusion that I liked myself. I decided that I liked myself, strengths, flaws, quirks, scars, rolls, and all. I liked me and it was incredibly empowering and grounding all at once. And I would come to learn that this quiet but powerful moment was really important. It would help me survive the onslaught that was to come.
The day he died, I learned yet another quirk of mine: I could sing through anything. I was sitting beside his body in the ambulance on our way to the morgue. At some point, I noticed that I was singing. It was a song by Dido called “My Lover’s Gone”. And it was rather apt, albeit morbidly so. I had sung it so many times over the years, it came to me in that moment, unbidden, unplanned, and unerring in its accuracy for the first time in my life. 😔
This was a moment quite similar to the one that had happened earlier that day: quiet, devoid of flash or glamour, but just as powerful. I had come face to face with my soul yet again, and even in the midst of my deepest sorrow, I had found a strength that nothing could take away.
That strength would show up over and over again in the days and weeks and months to come. I would find yet again that I could survive anything life threw at me. I could sing or cry, laugh or fight, stay in bed all day or hit the road. I could blurt out my pain to a total stranger or sit alone in silence for hours on end. I could chat with unfamiliar people on Twitter or leave my WhatsApp messages unread for days. I could and would let each day unfold however it would and roll with it. But whether I was vivacious or dead tired, I had a strength of spirit that was independent of my external circumstances.
Perhaps I’m just superstitious, but I sometimes think that my husband’s loving spirit was partially responsible, not for my strength, but for those moments of realisation: I would learn later that he was already gone before the moment when I decided that I liked myself. He had given me many gifts, but at the moment of his death, I got the most powerful gift: the gift of my own self. My lover’s gone, but I am here, fully and powerfully present. And even through the pain, I know that I’m enough.