I am in a bad way. It's that time of year. I don't feel like I'm depressed as much as just overwhelmingly sad. Alex's birthday is approaching, and it affects me in a way that the anniversary of his death does not. Dates were always SO important to him, like they never were to me. Bella and I are fine to celebrate occasions anytime that's convenient. Alex, on the other hand, could have his whole world thrown for a loop if an event weren't celebrated ON THE VERY DATE THAT IT WAS INTENDED. Christmas on Christmas Eve? Valentine's Day on a Friday when it really fell on a Thursday? NEVER. I never understood why this was such a big issue for him, but I respected it.
Anyway, in upcoming days, I AM going to be sad. I am going to cry a lot. I'm likely to be maudlin, to read sad novels, or novels that we both loved, or movies in the same vein. I still, after all these years, cannot stop myself from the urge to turn to him and say, "Can you believe that?" But he's not there.
The truth is, much of the time when he WAS there, he wasn't there. And this is what I want to talk to you about, my friends, my people who love me. I do not know "what you can do for me" during this time. If I knew, I'd be doing it for myself. I do, however, know what you can NOT do. And for those of you who are shocked by this list that will follow, please know that yes, these are things that do happen.
My husband was sick. Very sick. That wasn't his fault. No, it doesn't absolve him from responsibility for his choices. It's not an excuse, but it is, at least in part, an explanation. I know this. I, OF ALL PEOPLE, know this. He hurt people with his actions. Believe me, I know this first hand. But he was also a person. A child of God just like me or any of you. A divine, miraculous creation, no matter your views on theology or lack thereof. The real person in there, the person absent of the illness, was someone who I dearly loved, like I doubt I will ever love anyone again. THAT person ruined me for other men. He loved and adored and doted on his daughter. She remembers very little of that now, due to her own struggles with depression and PTSD-related memory loss, and that breaks my heart. Because whatever good there was in him, he poured into her. I see it in her daily. Her humor, her soft-heartedness, her love of freaking CATS.
So here's what I do NOT need from you. Do not remind me of his misdeeds. Do you honestly think I forgot them? Let me make you a partial list: He lied, he cheated, he stole, he betrayed. He gained trust and then abused it. Repeatedly. I KNOW ALL THIS, and so much more than you could ever imagine. In the end, he became violent toward me, and all of you know that that is when I left. I always believed, though, that SOMETHING would break, there would be some miracle drug cocktail, some therapy, some new something that would allow him to be HIMSELF all the time, and I could have him back. I had no choice but to leave him, but I never believed it would be forever. Death stole that hope, meager as it was, from me.
Do not tell me that we are better off now than we were before. While there is some (a lot) of truth in this, especially for Bella, it just doesn't erase the fact of his humanity, and that we miss having a husband and father.In fact, STOP TRYING TO ERASE HIS HUMANITY, because that is what you are doing. He had a family, both ours and the one who raised him. Respect that. He was someone's beloved little boy. He was never unloved a day in his life.
I had thought this post would be a lot longer, listing a lot of specific "don'ts", but I think you get the idea. The idea is that I KNOW THAT MY HUSBAND DID BAD THINGS. Lots of them. So many you wouldn't even believe if I told you, even those of you who know me best. When he was manic or hypomanic, he was the worst. But even at his worst, he was still human, and he was still loved. And he died loved. And I missed him before he died, and I miss him now. Please respect that, if you love me.
I hate that he missed the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King. I hate that he's missing The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The upcoming Dark Tower movies. The Bigfoot Festival in Vilonia. HIS CHILD GROWING UP AND BEING AMAZING. I hate that someone with so many gifts had to carry such a giant, horrific curse. It all just sucks, and maybe he could have found something to grasp onto, to help pull himself out of the maw of the monster that gripped him so tightly for so many years. So many of us held his lifeline for so many years, and it wasn't enough. I KNOW THAT. You do not need to remind me.
One last thing, because this bothers his child in particular: If you knew him in high school and never spoke to him since then, don't act like you knew him. You didn't, and it's insulting. You can honor his memory in your own way, but you're not one of us. No offense, but where were you during those decades that he had not one single friend in the world aside from me? If he was "such a great guy," as so many of you claimed at his funeral, why did you omit him from your life? He was never, ever far away.
Just love me, and understand if I'm crying that it's OK. You don't have to try to get me to stop. If I talk about him, I usually cry, and I DO so love to talk about him. About the good times and the good things. He gave me so much grief, a lifetime's worth, but God as my witness, he gave me a lifetime's worth of joy.