Updated: Dec 29, 2022
I'm just.....I can't really describe it. Everyone else's life has continued. They get up, go to work, go to parties, travel, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions....and it feels like my world has ended. I know that feeling will change over time. It's only been less than a month since my best friend, lover and life partner has transitioned. But I lost something that I cannot replace. And I burst out in tears in inopportune times:
when I'm walking to the office on Herengracht, Amsterdam. When I try to sleep, the nights are really tough. When I look at the beautiful city of Amsterdam and think about the dreams and plans we had together. When I think about what he was and what cancer did to my Strong Black King.
And I'm wondering why everyone else's world didn't stop. I know this is crazy. I know that this world keeps moving. And as Eric always said, "nobody really cares". But I don't believe that. I'm in a state of mourning that will last...well, I have no idea how long it will last. As I walk the streets of Amsterdam, children are playing; people are laughing and going about their business. And I'm crying, streams on my face. How come and why did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Why do others get to live and not my husband? A great man, who has and continued to contribute to this world.
But that's the survivors guilt speaking to me. I know that, but I cannot help feeling this way. How can everyone else's life go on, when it feels like the end of my world. This was not the plan...damn it! I question every decision we made, hindsight always has a better vision, crystal clear, no transition lenses required. I know others question them too. I cannot let others, who did not, do not know or were not part of our intimate conversation of how we were going to battle this disease and live our lives dictate how I feel. But I hear them in my head.... the why's? Why? Why? and more why's.
It's funny how people react to death. Well not, 'ha, ha' funny, but peculiar. I haven't really "let it all out" yet. I'm keeping it together, staying strong, as people would say. I have no idea what that means. Am I showing too much weakness, that's why people are telling me to "stay strong?". Why can I not be vulnerable and "weak?" Or why isn't ok to break down and to show emotion? I don't know. So I do it all in private, as everyone goes by their day thinking that their lives cannot change in an instant. That today could be their last and we should be living like it is. That every moment, large or minuscule, is precious. I've decided to really think about everything I do. Every day, when I wake up, I thank God for it. Then I say to myself, "how do I want to spend this day?" I know I have to work. I'm not saying blow that off. I'm saying that if there's something you want to do, then do it.
Eric and I planned the next 15+ years together; 3-5 of which would be living abroad. During that time, we'd find a landing place for retirement. Then we'd retire and live our lives between Europe and the U.S., working when we wanted, and traveling more. But as we all know, that plan changed when Eric was diagnosed. Now I'm a widow...wow, that was hard to type. I haven't even said it out loud yet. I haven't changed my FB or my IG relationship status. I'm still married. I will always be married, even though my partner; " ride or live," is not physically with me. It's almost been a month since he transitioned. As I've said before, he's no longer in pain. But why did he have to get cancer? Why him? Why us? Now it's me asking the "WHY's?"
My husband Eric was and is an amazing man. He was tough though, but he loved his family thoroughly. He only wanted the best for everyone. Even though he had to have some very tough conversations, even with me, God how I miss him. It hasn't really hit me. I'm thinking he will walk back into the apartment in Amsterdam at any moment. Or he had to head back to our home in Atlanta, as he did so often, for his job. Death is so final! Too final! How am I to move on? How am I to continue? I cannot stop crying. The slightest memories brings tears to my eyes; a song, a poem, an affirmation, a photo, or just a thought. The thought of who he was and what cancer did to him.
I wasn't with him when he took his last breath. And maybe that's how he wanted it. I kissed him, that faithful morning, told him I loved him and that I was picking up his sisters who just landed. Then I left, I didn't think he wasn't going to be here when we got back. My mom called me at the airport and told me. I yelped, cried and had to pull it together to tell his sisters. I told Deb first, then Sharon found out when we arrived.
The next days were about planning and getting an "Itinerary" together. Eric loved and demanded that I put together an "Itinerary" for everything. But as I was planning and putting together itineraries, I didn't have time to really fathom what has just happened. And after almost a month, I still haven't. I don't know when I will. HE'S STILL HERE TO ME! The below video exemplifies how I feel at this time. It will most likely be how I'll feel forever. As the skater continues, her partner is still with her. Just as I talk to Eric every day. I kiss his urn and say "Good morning handsome". I wear some of his clothes or some article of his every day because I need him close to me, daily. And now the process continues, and will continue for some time. I have decided on getting a therapist here in Amsterdam and in Atlanta. A third party neutral person whom I can express any feelings that I have about this entire journey and how the journey will continue.