Ch.222 Wailing on the Day Pat Died

Ch.222 Wailing on the Day Pat Died

The new six-week grief group that I am co-facilitating met for the first time on Tuesday. Halfway through the group, Wendy, my fellow facilitator, asked people to “share a little more about your experience.” And then she turned to me and asked me to start.
All right, I considered, should I play it safe? For instance, I could talk about where I am now, 15 months into healing, maybe tell the others how my sobs have gradually become sighs. But if I play it safe, I’ll be communicating that message to the group: You, too, shouldn’t take any chances right now. And so, I decided to tell people about the day my wife lay dying. Specifically, I recalled the five-ten minutes I “wailed” at Pat’s bedside. Later, I realized I had never mentioned that episode in my own grief group, the one I’ve been attending for months. Nor do I remember writing about it here. Perhaps I needed to wait over a year before feeling safe enough to remember.
“Wailing” is defined as “To express sorrow audibly,” a lament, to give a cry of pain or grief, to howl, bawl, keen, sob.
I sat beside Pat, holding her hand, with my family, watching Pat’s steady journey toward death. Holding it together as best I could. But then I couldn’t any longer. I began sobbing, not crying, sobbing, loudly, louder than I’d ever cried before. Howling.
 I have a part of me that stands apart from my emotions; that part of me was dumbfounded. “What the Hell are you doing, Ron?” it asked, “This is embarrassing.” Meanwhile, the rest of me wailed, sobbed, snorted, gasped, and bawled. Endlessly. And then, my daughter Jenny spoke gently, asking me if I needed some time alone with Pat. “Yes,” was all I could manage. They departed and then I was alone with my dying wife. And I could tell her I loved her, whispering. But not good-bye. My wailing wasn’t an acknowledgement of her dying. It was a desperate plea to come back; Don’t leave me here, alone, I was begging. I need you here, with me, forever.
Pat made no response. She didn’t open her eyes, smile, and tell me she loved me too and would stick around a little longer. Nor did she take one last breath and pass away in my arms. She was too busy finishing her journey to be able to attend to my plea.
It was unfair for me to ask the impossible from Pat. She couldn’t respond no matter how desperately I wailed. But I had to ask because right then it was hard for me to believe I could live without her. In some ways, it still amazes me that I can.