When your life falls out of the present tense

When my love first died, I found I didn’t have words for my life anymore.

I never knew which tense to speak in… using past tense broke my heart, I wasn’t ready for it… but the present tense also became confusing and painful. I felt I couldn’t join conversations anymore. If a conversation was happening about a favourite band of ours, I couldn’t say ‘we love them’ as that is speaking of him in the present, I couldn’t say ‘we loved that band’ as it puts me into the past tense and leaving him out of the equation to say that I love that band feels like it denies my present, my memories and my best friend’s life.

It left me tongue tied… like my entire life had fallen out of the present tense onto this surreal plane of existence that was entirely different, yet I looked exactly the same to those around me.

I found it wasn’t just that people were awkward with my pain and grief, they seemed to be uncomfortable with my happy memories and love too. Averted gazes when I talked about a holiday we had, uncomfortable silences filled the room like a ghost lingering over me. Mark was and is my best friend, when he died so suddenly, I was spun out of orbit… all roads led back to him, every single thing had a connection to him yet I felt like I had a gagging order over my life.

I don’t want my life to become a history book and I’ve found the art of carrying my grief is about holding the past and future simultaneously. Six years into this surreal new life and I still switch tenses and I still want to talk about my life with him, because he is forever present for me, a part of my life and our love that I carry with me and is interwoven with the strands of a new life that I am trying to rebuild. I am bringing him with me… he is not consigned to a chapter of my past or an event for people to talk about in hushed tones… he was and is my love. He is the most beautiful person and I will always be in love with him – and what do you do when you’re wholly in love with someone? You shout it from the damn rooftops!

This doesn’t mean I am stuck or I am refusing to rebuild a new life… I honour my grief and my Marky’s life by telling his story, our story and letting the world know.

We lose so much when our person dies, we lose a shared language, all our secret in-jokes and knowing looks, our person who knows us inside-out. We even lose some of our memories… have you ever remembered an awesome thing that happened and had a conversation where your memories bounce off each other? You miss the only other person who was there in that moment, who shared it with you, to remember details and giggle about it with you.

When we can’t join normal, every day conversations it compounds that feeling of our life having fallen out of the present tense… We want to talk about them. We now live lives of a seeming duality, holding the sadness of grief and the bursting passion of love. Grieving widows contain a multitude of emotions, whole worlds craving to express themselves, to be present, to be heard, to be lived – as our present is so painful but still our lives, our stories and our love.

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