A year of Hal in spirit

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness. – The Episcopal Church, from The Book of Common Prayer

One year ago today, the world lost the physical presence of my husband and soulmate Hal. There’s not much to say about my grief that a person couldn’t guess. I still miss him every day, especially in the morning, when he would shuffle out of the bedroom, see me fixing his coffee and smile through his sleepy haze. While the sharp pain of grief mellows, the missing of him will never go away.

What would be more surprising and fruitful to share with others, I think, are the good things that came from this year of loss:

  • The still-spouting gusher of love and support from family and friends who feel this grief so obviously, genuinely and intensely alongside me. I was told in books and by counselors to expect people not to understand, not to know what to say, to be awkward and slowly fade away to leave me alone with my grief. This advice has turned out to be wrong. It’s a testament to how widely and deeply Hal was loved.
  • The stupefying ways in which I continue to feel Hal’s presence, and how that’s so much more real than the greeting-card snippet of denial it sounds like. Existence in body and time is only part of how a person manifests in the world. Many years of meditative practice have convinced me we’re all shimmering within a single, universal consciousness that never changes. It’s a truth every major religion points at, and science is catching up fast. The memory of Hal is Hal. I don’t always grasp him perfectly in memory, but I didn’t always grasp him perfectly in life, either, as he would’ve been quick to point out.
  • How this difficult year has deepened my understanding of the world, enriched my Christian and Buddhist faith, and seems to have equipped me to bring that to others in need of a hand through suffering. There’s a new calling somewhere in all this. Still waiting as patiently as I can for that Polaroid to develop.

Tomorrow, this year of firsts is over, and in that respect, I’ll be glad to see it go. I’ll never again have to confront a first birthday without Hal, a first wedding anniversary without Hal, a first Christmas without Hal, a first Easter without Hal. Hopefully I’ll also never have to confront another cancer diagnosis without Hal, though he motivated me through his death to get that diagnosis before it could send me packing to where he is, so in a sense, he was here. In a lot of senses, he’s here. He sends his love. Send yours back when you see him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s