I got the death certificate – it was correct the second time. Is that what made it official? Was my darling husband Dan really dead? I wondered just months ago when I would begin to feel not just like a widow but like I’m single again. Does our seven months of separation count in the grieving process, or does the process start all over again? Who am I without the love of my life?
Now that I’ve gone through all the “official” notifications of the end of Dan, I realize it’s not the only end. I realize there is also no more us. No we. No Susan and Dan.
Early in our relationship, I had fun melding our names into one – SusAnDan – Susan and Dan run all together, as one. Together. Our. We. Us. It was who WE were since 2001. We shared our lives, shared our feelings and dreams. Shared a hope for the future. We were so strong together. Now Us is … done. We are a thin vapor of memory in My mind alone.
I still see Dan. But it’s a fleeting glance of a ghost. He was a nice looking, friendly, kind, generous, successful man. I see others who constantly remind me of him, but it’s not Dan. I see his car model — a popular one in my city — all the time. This car was Dan’s 40th birthday present to himself. His pride and joy. This pampered baby was his reward for and symbol of success. We rode in it to theater productions, friends’ homes, to get from our wedding to the reception just three years ago, and to depart for our honeymoon. It had good memories for me.
Then, I left Dan to save myself. The little cocoons of dreams don’t always blossom into the beautiful butterflies of life hoped for. When we were separated, I used to cringe when I saw the type of car he drove. I’d spy a quick glance to see if it was him driving. It never was. That car took a beating as my husband continued to drive it no matter how bad his illness got. No matter how impaired he was. Now that car sits damaged in My driveway, a thin reflection of what once was. Doesn’t matter. Even when We were separated, I still loved Dan more than I’d loved anyone in my life. I wanted to spend my life with him in wedded bliss — not the three years of pain it turned out to be. Despite it all, I was still married to him and thought of myself as part of OUR WE.
Today I think of Dan and what We were. What We lost. Wherever he is, I don’t know if he feels the pain of losing US. But I grieved, grieved, grieved for him. I still grieve for what We had together for such a short time. I grieve for Us. Regardless of what I hoped and prayed for — for months and months — SusAnDan is gone.
I have always believed regret is wasted energy. As much as I craved my fairy tale, and as close as I thought I was to it, we don’t always get what we want — or what we think we’re getting. And so I shifted my thinking. There was a Me before I was part of SusAnDan. I am now focusing on My future, My life. Looking to discover a new dream. Find a new passion. And just because the We is gone doesn’t mean I won’t be part of another We in the future. Dan is gone, but I, Susan, I live on.