“Want to split an orange, Baby?” he’d call out to me from bent over the open fridge. Mike and I always used to share them.
The other day without thinking I cut this orange up into 8 pieces and started eating, by the third slice it was getting harder to swallow as I realized what I was looking at, on the chopping board were Mike’s orange slices. His portion.
“Everything’s always better when you share”. He always said. Of course he was right.
These were Mike’s orange slices. I left them out for a bit because I was too sad to deal with them. I thought maybe I’d eat them later. I didn’t.
I hate wasting food, but I couldn’t eat these orange slices. They were his.
In these moments I get floored. I am devastated Mike isn’t here. I miss him terribly. I am sad he’s not here to eat his orange slices. Sometimes I am angry that he’s not here with me. I feel guilty for feeling angry. I fear I will never feel joy again. I feel disgust I am thinking about my own joy when Mike is dead. I feel shame that I’m feeling disgust and on and on it goes. Feelings on feelings on feelings – all in one moment. All because I needed a snack and hadn’t eaten any fruit that day.
my three griefs: him, us, & me
I wanted to share my thoughts on what grief is, but I’ve been having trouble expressing it. It’s hard to put any of this into words because it never feels enough. And as soon as I think I’ve got one part of grief figured out it morphs into something else entirely. It’s a complete bitch.
Grief is a thousand of these orange slice moments every day… and the pain falls into three categories, sometimes all at once.
First, I grieve for Mike. All the things he doesn’t get to do.
All the everyday joy he is missing out on: a perfect technicolour west coast sunset; getting to the top of the big hill on his bike; the final season of his favourite show he’ll never watch; that mountain (forbidden or not) never to be hiked; that first motorcycle ride of the season he’ll never take.
The agony of the everyday that he’s missing. I know he wanted to be here for all of it.
And then the big things…
He never got to meet my family who already loved him from afar.
He’ll never get to meet his best friends son who has touchingly been given his name for his middle name – Mike would have been so honoured.
He devastatingly won’t get to see his nephews grow up and be part of their life.
He’s missing all of this and more as time goes on.
Instead, he’s Forever 35.
Second, I grieve our future together that will never be.
We were planning a canoe trip here in BC. We were so excited. He was so proud to show me all that Canada has to offer and wanted to find a moose for me. I loved seeing him chop wood and cook over a campfire. Now my storage locker is full of our camping stuff – used once.
We were going to travel when it was a thing again. We planned to have our real honeymoon in Hawaii. I was going to take him to Australia to meet everyone. They all would have loved him – especially my nieces! Tour him to my favourite beaches and brunch spots. And show him ridiculous Aussie animals like a wombat and a platypus.
We were planning to move to California together. He was going to ride his motorcycle through the awesome landscapes – it’s always motorcycle season in California. I’d maybe get brave enough to ride on the back.
We were going to be by each other’s sides, have each other’s back, take care of each other.
“Me and you, you and me.” Always.
All that is gone.
Third, I grieve myself. I am not the person I used to be. I am forever changed and don’t fit in anywhere. I feel like a different species. Like I have purple skin and everyone can tell and I hate it. Or they can’t tell and I desperately need them to so they understand why those small talk questions are so hard for me to answer and I’m being weird and vague. On those days I wish I had a sticker like you get when you vote. Instead, it says “be nice to me, I’m a sad person”.
I used to be someone else. Now that person is gone and I don’t know what’s left. For who are you when your life is defined by loss? By lack of something. For no longer having something that was the absolute best. Defined by a negative space in your life. An explosion where once was a lifetime of possibility. A gaping hole. A nothingness.
Whatever I do now won’t be as fun without him. Whatever I do now is something Mike doesn’t get to do. Also, whatever I do next is because Mike died. My life has been set on this path because of Mike. I exist in the wrong timeline. I can’t ever go back and correct it. No matter how much my brain goes over and over the details that could have, should have, would have been different: it can’t be changed. Sadly, this is not the MCU.
I would give it all up for one more minute with him.
One more chance to split an orange and squeeze his hand.
The orange slices ended up in the compost. Canadians are mad for compost – you should see the sorting and recycling systems they’ve got going on here. I feel awful if I’m out and can’t find a compost bin for a compostable item and carry every incorrectly disposed of banana peel on my conscience forever.
So yeah, I composted Mike’s orange slices because I was too sad to eat them.
For now, I just won’t buy oranges. Vitamin C deficiency, come at me.
Mike couldn’t eat his orange slices, we won’t ever get to share an orange in the future, and I don’t know if I even like oranges anymore.
I grieve for Michael, for our shared life that will never be, and for myself. Three separate but intertwined griefs. All complicated. All torturous. All painful.
All a result of love and love lost.