“You don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve had to overcome because you have never had to. You’ve never lost the love of your life. You’ve never cried over the body of the person you love most in this world. You don’t know how that messes a person up.” This quote, so arduous and raw, expressed by Amelia Shepherd to Meredith Grey Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy, resonates with my inner core; as it encompasses for me, the plight of widowhood.
Before my beloved husband passed away, Grey’s Anatomy was our favorite, family show. Thursday night became our designated, treasured time. We first shared dinner together and then enjoyed playing a game or putting together a puzzle. At 10 minutes to 9:00, we grabbed our pillows, blankets and dessert and headed down to our entertainment room. Our oldest daughter was enthralled with the series and captivated by the cast. Our youngest daughter, who has severe autism, couldn’t wait to lay her head down on Daddy’s lap as he gently traced the outlines of her face while I rubbed her legs until she drifted off to sleep.
Somehow, the fabric of our lives seemed to unfold during each episode. The joys, adversity, compelling human interactions, and the chaos, spoke volumes to us; almost as if the writers had an inner, keen calling to translate what was transpiring in our own lives.
After my husband’s death and with my oldest daughter now being married, I simply was not able to watch Grey’s Anatomy. The thought of watching it alone sent a crashing tsunami of pain throughout my being. Have you stopped watching a show that holds an emotional attachment and was deemed, “your show” as a couple or family?
Well, for whatever reason, I was led to watch this season. An innate voice reeled me in despite my reluctance. My body literally shook during the first, few episodes and recently, I horrifyingly relived my husband’s demise right along with Dr. Derek Shepherd’s parting.
As Meredith, Derek’s wife, was in the elevator headed up to see her husband, in the “How to Save a Life” episode, I felt the grueling intensity, the disbelief, the agony, as I too spent time amidst those four walls. For the last two and half months of my husband’s life, he lived in the hospital. Each day I used that 2 minute portal as a harbor, a time to decompress and compose myself, put my mask on and prepare for my role as caretaker, nurturer, dream keeper, encourager, and health advocate for my husband. Other times, the elevator became a sounding board as I pounded the wall and sunk to the floor in sheer desperation. The day that my husband took his last breath, there was a teenage boy standing next to me in the elevator listening to, “How to Save a Life” by the Fray. Chills ran down my spine as I ran back to his hospital room.
As Meredith let Derek go, I too, again, re-released my David to our Savior and shouted out acclamations and tributes of praise for the man of integrity that he exemplified.
Meredith’s voice-overs encapsulated glimpses of my feelings concerning the chain reactions of grief: “When something big happens, something tragic, you freeze, you retreat into your happy bubble for what seems like a second, until you look up. And suddenly, you realize it’s a whole new world.” “How do you step back into the world? It’s scary. Time stood still and now it’s speeding by. You’re looking for a lifeboat, something to give you hope. But are you really ready to leave your happy, little bubble and step back out into the big, blinding, bloody, terrible world? Are you ready to achieve the impossible?”
Dear Heavenly Father, Just as the fictional character of Meredith is navigating her way through sorrow, my world has been altered too. Nothing makes sense anymore. I feel like the pause button was permanently pressed. I want life to rewind. Nevertheless, I know that I need to step back into the elevators of abundant life. Please take my hand, nudge me out of my retreating nature and plant my feet firmly in your direction of hope and promises. Amen.
As always, you are welcome to comment and/or share. Thank you for reading my blog. My next blog will be on May 27th. I hold each of you in my heart and prayers as we encourage and uplift each other.
Lisa Dempsey Bargewell