Every couple of weeks, I open my blog and look at what I wrote exactly a year ago. It’s a good way to process what’s happened and put things in perspective. I’ve never been motivated to keep a journal, so thank goodness I discovered a motivation for blogging when I began this crazy journey. Otherwise a lot of important memories would be lost.
When I got up this morning I looked back to see if I’d written anything a year ago today. I found this: A Blurry 2Summers Mystery is Revealed. It’s the post when Jon, who went by the pseudonym Joe back then, decided to reveal his face on 2Summers. Before that day, Jon had always blurred out his face in photos of him that appeared on my blog, earning him the nickname, “the Blur”.
Rereading that post got me thinking about lots of things. In the same way that Jon’s face used to be a blur on my blog, my thoughts have been a blur inside my head lately. I decided I better write my thoughts down, so I can remember and sort through them when I look back at this time next year.
My favorite photo of Jon working. Taken in Diepsloot, July 2011.
Tomorrow, it will be five months since Jon died. Nineteen used to be a lucky number for me — it was my jersey number in softball. Now, 19 will always remind me of that hot December day five months ago, when everything changed.
Each time one of these monthly anniversaries approaches, I take note of how my grieving has changed. At the three-month mark I felt euphoric, like I had clawed my way up through a sewer pipe, deep under the ground, and finally reached the sunlight again. I thought I had things all figured out. I was invincible. Here’s a post that I wrote around that time.
As the four-month anniversary approached, I was sinking again. Grief ambushed me, along with an all-too-familiar feeling of disbelief. How can Jon really be gone? How can I survive on my own? I remember standing in the shower one morning and realizing, “I’m alone.” I convulsed into sobs.
I think this is the worst thing about losing a partner, as opposed to other types of loss. When your spouse/partner dies, every aspect of your day-to-day life changes in an instant. All the things that you used to do with someone else, you now have to learn to do alone. It’s not only a death; it’s a divorce. Except you don’t have the satisfaction of hating the person for leaving you.
This post hints at how I was feeling around the four-month mark.
Another favorite photo of Jon, taken in the Drakensberg Mountains in September 2010.
So, here I am at the five-month anniversary of Jon’s death, hoping I’ve found a bit of balance. At this moment at least, I feel calm — not euphoric, not morose, but accepting. I miss Jon, but in a more moderate kind of way. I’m learning how to feel content by myself, how to head off the loneliness when I see it creeping toward me. I’m learning how to enjoy time with friends, without depending on friends for my survival. I know now that I can only depend on myself.
Perhaps most promising of all, I’m starting to feel restless. Almost bored. I’m no longer frozen in place, hesitant to move for fear of losing pieces of myself, for fear of losing Jon. I’m no longer using Jon’s death as a bargaining chip — as a free pass to get out of doing things. At least I’m trying not to do that. I realize now that I can keep Jon with me while moving forward alone.
For the first four months after Jon died, his two favorite shirts and his Land Rover hoodie hung on the clothes rack next to the bed. His Wilbur Smith novel sat on the night stand, bookmark in place. Every few days I would stop and look at these items, pick them up, then put them back down again.
Last week, I put Jon’s things away. It wasn’t a super-dramatic moment or anything. I didn’t cry. I just decided it was time.
Jon and I in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, October 2010.
It looks like May 19th will be better than April 19th, and that’s about all I can ask for at this point. I’ll check in again in June.
One last thing. In honor of Jon on the anniversary of his 2Summers reveal, I want to thank him for everything he taught me about taking photos. Ironically, when Jon was alive I was insecure about my photography. Jon kept telling me I was good, but inside I felt like a poser. It was only after Jon was gone — when I was forced to move out from under his shadow as a photographer — that I began to realize how much I learned from him.
When I looked through the boxing pictures I took in Yeoville last week, I thought, “Hot damn! Those are good photos.” I discovered that Jon’s eye is inside me now. Lucky me.