On an usual day at my internship, I was doing the usual things. I walked into a familiar room to ask the usual questions of a new resident. Mrs. M was lying in bed, staring at the wall. She was polite, efficiently answering my questions. And then I said the wrong thing, she corrected me, and my heart got stuck in my throat.
I had been told she was married, and had lived at home with her husband prior to falling and breaking her leg. True.
But 3 days into her stay, her husband died.
He kissed her goodbye after a visit, told her he would be back in the morning, walked outside, collapsed and died in the parking lot.
I didn't know.
And I was faced with realizing that I had said something that made this stranger cry, sob, shake. I had said something that hurt her.
She proceeded to tell me that she didn't go to the funeral. She couldn't bring herself to do it. She said she knew I thought she was an awful person for that. I disagreed.
"I know my limits. I knew I couldn't do that. I knew seeing him in a coffin would break me. I don't want to break."
I apologized, but she insisted that she didn't mind talking about it, with tears running down her face.
I tried not to cry, I really did.
Now I see her every day and we talk. And she tells me that she is thankful that I came into her room that day, and listened to her talk about her husband.
Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes things happen, completely out of our control, nothing like we planned or could have ever imagined. No one plans to kiss their spouse goodbye and never see them again. No one plans to live 15 years after their spouse dies, and still feel the pang of the loss just the same as if it happened when the sun rose this morning.
Life throws shitty curveballs sometimes.
Her loss was tangible, palpable. It was sufficiating. Even now, I can feel it in my chest. It pulls on my face, weighs heavy on my shoulders.
I can identify with it. Can't we all, on some level?
Lately, loss seems to go hand-in-hand with lost. And fear. And rage. And hope. But mainly lost.