Monday, May 18, 2020

Lessons in love

Anyone who ever saw Pascual and I together knew how much we loved each other.  We were very demonstrative.  Hugging, kissing, holding hands all the time.  It was obvious how we felt about each other.

I never realized until after his death how unusual that is for the culture he came from.  All of his friends and family are lovely people.  They hug and kiss hello and goodbye.  But I have never seen any if the couples hold hands or kiss or put their arms around each other.  Funny I never noticed it.  I thought everyone was like us until a Spanish friend of mine pointed out that it is not their way to be demonstrative.

I know it is one of the things Pascual really loved about me.  He liked being hugged and kissed.  It made him feel loved.  I liked it too.  We were very alike in that.  I was thinking about love a lot over the past couple of weeks.  How it endures and sharpens into clearer focus after the death of your partner.

I have come to know that Pascual, in his decision to end his life, was trying to love me the best way he could in his pain.  He made sure I would not be sued.  He signed and mailed off his severance package so I would get the money.  He sacrificed his life so I could have a better, easier life financially without him.

I am having a very hard time with this... how do I come to terms with the fact that he truly believed I would be better off without him.  All of these things have been rolling around in my head for several days now...

I usually wake up and cry.  Sunday morning I woke up with the song Blue Skies, smiling at me... nothing but blue skies do I see... stuck in my head.  I was singing it and Kayleigh said, “you’re in a good mood this morning.”  I thought about it and said that I woke up with it rolling around in my head.  I must have dreamed it.  I have dream soundtracks.

I spoke to a friend and talked to her about how bad I was feeling about the things I’ve come to know about how Pascual thought to sacrifice himself for me.  I spoke of my pain and grief over it, as well as  my difficulty accepting it.  My friend said “that’s love Karan.  It may seem really screwed up to us... but even in his pain and darkest moments... he loved you.  His final actions were of love in protecting you as much as he could.”  I thought about what she said.  It was a different perspective.  Something I could look for the gift in.  He loved me.  I still feel his love for me every day.

I’ve been trying to watch a Star Trek show called Picard on tv all last week.  I kept falling asleep during the last episode.  Like literally 8 times.  So after having my tea, I decided to put the show on and finally watch the end.  Spoiler alert, captain Picard and Data have a conversation about death.  Data wanted his whole life to feel actual love.  He asks Picard to let him go... to let him die.  A doctor was using his neurons to build more synthetic life forms so he was essentially trapped in a hologram forever.  Unable to truly die and move on.  Data says... (I’m paraphrasing somewhat..“we live, however briefly knowing that our life is finite.  Human mortality gives meaning to life. Peace, love, friendship.  These are precious because we know they cannot endure.”  Then while they are having this conversation, the song I’ve been singing all morning, Blue Skies comes on in the room where they are visiting.  Picard says he was upset with Data for sacrificing his life for Picard, when Picard had planned to do the same thing.  Data says, “if you can sacrifice your life for love of me, why can you not accept that I would do the same for you?”

Here is where I lose it.  I’m blubbering like a baby, because Pascual has sent me a very deep message about his love for me.  All I can say in the moment is “Star Trek?! You didn’t even LIKE Star Trek.”  I hear his voice echo in my ear... “No, but you did darling...”

So my day started out with a loving message from him, with many layers of validation so I would see that it truly was him.  He is with me still.  Helping me through the pain.  Sending me comforting messages.  Taking tender care of me as he used to say.  I’m learning to just go with it when these things happen.  And the more open I am, the more I see things from new perspectives.  I miss him so much... but yesterday, for the first time since his death, I actually felt like I am going to make it through this.  Thanks to a love that keeps on... even in Death

Friday, May 15, 2020

Honeymoon memories

Found this little reminder of our honeymoon after the California wedding.  28 days in Hawaii on Maui, Kauai and Oahu.  What a beautiful trip.  Only one brief mention of the trip to the emergency room.

It’s a really funny story... and I need funny right now.  However it is long... just saying...

Sometime between the wedding and the week later when we left for Hawaii, I strained my rotator cuff.  For the first 10 days on Maui I walked around with my arm hurting.  Pascual carries my hot pink purse everywhere for me... and kept suggesting we go to the Dr.  finally I agreed that I would go when we got to Kauai.  I call Kaiser to get pre-approval for an ER visit and they tell me there is a hospital on Maui.  Great.  We just left Maui and are now in Kauai.  They tell me to go to the nearest ER and they will cover it.  I call to get directions to the hospital.  The lady answering the phone says.. “when you come out of airport you go Burger King way or Kentucky Fried Chicken way to Poipu?”  Huh?  “Honey do you remember seeing a BK or a KFC when we turned on the highway? “ He says “No, I don’t recall... “. I tell her we came down highway number blah blah because I couldn’t pronounce the Hawaiian name.  “Well, I need to know if you come da KFC or BK way cause Hawaiian people doan read da numbahs.”  So we figure our we came the BK way..  She tells me to go back to the BK and past the Hilo Hatties and behind that parking lot is the hospital.  Sounds perfectly logical to me and is exactly the way I give directions.  We head off to the ER.  Yes, strained rotator cuff... here is a sling.  Don’t use your arm for the rest of the trip, follow up with your doctor when you are on the mainland.  Ok.  Got it.

Scratch the canoeing trip and zip line tour we had booked, cause I can’t do them now...

The next morning, I wake up and put in my contact lenses... and one tears and rolls up under my eyelid.  There are Louvered doors on the bungalow we are in to let in the trade winds.  I’m shouting “oh my god, it hurts, pull it out!”  Then when he tries to help me I scream “Ow it’s hurting me, don’t touch me, get away.. “  I finally get both pieces out of my eye, and I can’t see anything out of my eye.  Pascual says, “let’s go back to the hospital and have them look at it.”  I start crying.  “No, I’m not going back to the f-ing hospital.”  We are going to our luau we booked.

Mind you we have a snorkel trip booked in 2 days and I needed contacts to see in a mask... so I call home and have them overnight me another pair of lenses, hoping my eye will be ok enough to snorkel in 2 days.  As we leave the bungalow, people are staring at us... and when we come back from the drug store and I’m wearing an eyepatch, they stare even more.

That night, I get up in the middle of the night to pee... an eyepatch on one eye, no glasses on in a dark unfamiliar room.  I walk into the bathroom... Bam!  Straight into the bathroom door that my new husband has courteously shut after using.  I break my pinkie toe.  As I’m hopping around screaming again hollering that it hurts and why would you do that?...  “I was being a gentleman” he says apologetically as I’m tripping over furniture and making another noisy ruckus that the neighbors around us hear...  he offers to take me to the hospital again.  I cry and tell him no because I’d broken my pinkie toe before and all they did was tape it to the next toe.  “We’ll go to the pharmacy in the morning and get tape.”

In the morning when we are walking to the car, I’m limping with a sling and an eyepatch..  the people next door to us ask me if I’m all right.  I’m crying as I tell them what has happened and how jinxed I am on our honeymoon.  They smile but still look suspiciously at Pascual as they walk away.  This is our third day on Kauai.  We canceled everything we had booked except the helicopter tour and a snorkel trip.  I couldn’t walk on the beach because I couldn’t bend my toe on the sand.  Couldn’t swim for the same reason, along with the shoulder.  Pascual teases I could swim in a circle since it was my left side that was affected, I could use the right arm and leg.  I don’t think it’s very funny.

We rented videos and watched movies in the room for 2 days, sweltering in the heat with no AC because most people are out at the beach during the day when it’s hot, the rooms don’t have AC.  Then he said “To Hell with this... let’s go baby, we can still go shopping.”  I hobbled around with him to every store... a sling, an eyepatch, sock on my hurt toe foot and a flip flop on the other, limping like Quasimodo.  He was carrying my pink purse.  We bought stuff for me to make a scrapbook of the trip.

On the way back he wanted to stop and check out the pool.  We figured out that I could go in the pool if I wrapped my good arm around his neck and shoulders from behind and he just towed me around the pool everywhere. So that’s what we did for most of the days.

I was able to hobble out to the beach for sunsets with tennis shoes on, so we saw sunsets.  We went to a replica Hawaiian village where they filmed the movie Outbreak.  We saw the falls from Fantasy Island and the Fern Grotto... and had lots of beautiful dinners eating fresh Pan Pacific cuisine.

Every night I cried that I was ruining our honeymoon... and he would smile and say... “I know you are sad now baby, but one day we will tell the story of this trip and we will laugh our asses off.”  He was so great about things like that.  He saw the humor in everything... even the shitty stuff.  And he was right.  We did laugh every time we told the story.  It was one of our favorites.  I’m reminded of all of our special moments in what I thought was a crappy trip at the time.  Now I see the gifts.  Lots of time together.  Him taking tender care of me.  Being in our favorite place in the world.  He said to me once with his sweet accent when I was crying... “Hey, we are together.  I love you...  can’t you find it in your heart to smile at your new husband?”  And I did.  He brought out the best in me.  Even when I was at my worst.  He always found a way to make everything special.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Happy 47th anniversary Darling

When I talk about how I will never find another man like Pascual... I really mean it.  He married me four times.  Four ceremonies, four wedding rings, four honeymoons.  He wanted to have a ceremony every month.  That way if we forgot an anniversary we would just pick it up the next one.  Our next was going to be in Vegas in July in an Elvis love chapel by an Elvis impersonator.

If you add all of them up we would have hit 50 anniversaries by the end of this year.  We were looking forward to celebrating 50 anniversaries in Spain for the Christmas holidays.  I don’t know of another man who would want to marry his wife 12 times.  Willingly!  And his idea to begin with.

He was romantic.  He loved to go for moonlight walks on the beach.  He enjoyed watching and photographing sunsets as much as I did.  We loved snorkeling in Hawaii holding hands while we watched the fish and turtles.  He liked picnics on the beach and hikes to waterfalls, constantly on the lookout for wild orchids.  He loved whales and dolphins.  The time we went snorkeling in Maui and ended up in a pod of dolphins, he was like a little kid watching them flip and jump all around us.  

The kids found out we were eloping and asked us not to run away and get married.  They were very insistent that they wanted to be there as a part of the ceremony.  So we planned another wedding at my Mom and Teens house with local family and friends.  Pascual’s best friends Vicente and Laura came from Spain with his cousin Olga and her husband Alberto and his Godmother Maria Jesus and her son Ramon.  It was another day of laughter, dancing and more tears of joy.  My mother performed the ceremony.  My sons walked me down the aisle.  His friends stood up with him as best man and women.  His Godmother was at his side in Spanish marriage tradition.  My girls were a bridesmaid and flower girl.  The day was perfect.  The weather was warm, we drank wine smuggled from Spain in his friends luggage.

We had 2 beach weddings, a vineyard wedding and a wedding in a castle.  This anniversary is from the vineyard wedding at my parents house.  As I look through the photos of the day, I remember how incredibly happy we were.  I chuckle at how little the kids were.   I remember feeling so lucky to marry my soul mate a second time in front of all my friends and family.

We were 40 years old.  We had become a family.  We were a team together to face all the storms in life.  We didn’t know of the things that were coming.  We didn’t know the real estate market would tank and we would lose everything.  We didn’t know that he would spend 7 years trying to get back into the business he left before finding the right job in that industry again.  We didn’t know that we would have to start over financially three times over the next 15 years.  We battled so many obstacles, and survived so many hardships... through it all we never stopped loving each other.  We never gave up on each other or our dreams.  We kept working toward our goals.

I look at the path ahead of me now and I can’t imagine taking it alone.   I look for the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s dark and endless.  I don’t know how to dream without him.  I’ve become so accustomed to sharing everything with him down to the smallest detail, that I don’t know how to go on without him.  I’m completely lost in the pain.  This has been a sad week with a lot of crying.

I’m trying darling.  Trying to move on.  Trying to forgive you and forgive myself.  I’m trying to hold on to the good memories and let them flood me full of warm feelings.  I’m trying but it’s such an effort to get out of bed and get dressed each day.  Facing a third celebration day without you in three weeks is a lot to take.  You sure picked a crappy time.  I’m trying to be gentle and patient with myself through this process, but all I can feel is the incredible emptiness of your absence.  So again, I celebrate these milestones without you.  The victory hollow.  The taste bitter with the ashes of these dreams we had that are no more.

I love you... I miss you... I want you back my darling

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A beautiful quote

Grief never ends . . .
but it changes.  
It’s a passage, 
not a place to stay.  
Grief is not a sign of weakness, 
nor a lack of faith . . .

It is the price of love.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The way he loved me

We met on line one night when I had insomnia.  I will save the whole love story for another post... but for now, suffice it to say that we spent 6 months talking on the phone and emailing each other before we ever met in person.  The first thing I loved about him was his beautiful voice.  So animated.  The tone resonated in my ear.  We spent hours on the phone.  I wore headphones so it was clear in my ear.  A softly accented, soothing voice that made me tingle when I heard it.  He would sing to me sometimes.  He had a beautiful singing voice.  Other times he would speak to me in different languages.  It was kind of like having different lovers.  He was always chuckling and cracking jokes.  My love for him started with his voice.  

He was the Ricky to my Lucy.  More than anything he liked to make me laugh.  I loved how he would revert to Spanish words when he was angry and “Ricky Ricardo out” with his temper tantrum.  One time  in the early day’s when his accent was thicker he got road rage and yelled at the guy in English ”Ju.. ju... hole of the ass!”  Then he started cursing a blue streak just like Ricky used to do to Lucy.  I’m in the passenger seat holding my stomach laughing because it was hilarious.  He looks at me all pissed of and says “When you laugh at me, it loses all its force!”  I just giggled and repeated “hole of the ass”. And we both started cracking up.  It was one of our favorite curse words after that.  

He had no problem being the butt of a joke, but where he really shined was with puns on words.  His friends would tell me he was hilarious in Spanish.  I thought he was funny in English too.  Over time, he tried so hard to make puns on words in English and quite often it did not work.  I started telling him he wasn’t funny in English, but he knew I thought he was, when it was natural.  When he forced it, not so much.  Every once in a while he would come up with a gem that was so funny, people would tell it and retell it over again.  

My favorite was this time he came up to me and all the skin on his face was dry and peeling.  I would usually say, “Honey you need lotion, your face is all peely. “. He would usually say, “No I’m Pascual, my sister is Pili.”  But this time instead, he looked at me really serious and said ”I know...  I have a reptile disfunction.”  Classic Pascual.  

Quite often if we were late to a party people would call and ask us when we were going to arrive.  He would laugh at me and say, “Apparently the party doesn’t start until I get there.”  He loved to make people laugh.  He would have people gathered in a circle and would have the men doubled over and the women crossing their legs laughing so hard they were going to pee themselves.  I liked to stand back a bit during those times and observe.  It made me happy to see him so happy.  

He wanted to be everything to me.  He would pretend he was galloping up to me on a horse like Prince Charming.  Making the horses hoof noises and prancing like he was on a stick pony, and then make the horse whinney noises.   “Hola Princessa, do you come frequently here?” And I would die laughing.  He was trying to say “Do you come here often?” but he got it wrong.  He would say it the wrong way every time just to make me laugh.  

He would dance around in his bikini brief underwear doing a sexy dance for me but he would purposely make it funny.  Everything he did was funny.  

He would grab me in the kitchen and start dancing with me in his version of a very bouncy waltz.  Singing softly in his beautiful voice,  a song to the tune of a song I knew, but whose words he didn’t.  So he’d sing on with completely made up words like raka fraken fraller.   

He would hear a song he liked with a lot of guitar and he would put his arms around me and use me as his air guitar.  I had to ask him to stop sometimes because in his  exuberance he would leave bruises.  

Every time he left for work or left for a trip he would kiss my cheek and tell me goodbye.  I got to the point where I would sleep through it.  On his last day in this world he said quite loudly in my ear, “Goodbye darling... I love you! “. I was surprised he was so loud that it woke me.  I reached up to stroke his cheek and down his arm and told him, “Goodbye darling.  I love you too.  Have a good day.”  

Had I known it would be his last,  I would have gotten up to give him a big hug, felt his arms around me one more time.  But that voice in my ear... It was the first thing I ever knew of him when we met on line so long ago... and the last thing I knew of him before he left this world.  I cling to the memory of it.  I hold the sound of it in my heart.  I listen to the two voicemails I have of him over and over so I can feel that little tingle I always get when I hear his voice in my ear.  

All of these things I took for granted.  I assumed they would always be here.  Now I am left with memories, photos, a few emails and a couple of voicemails.  I wish I had taken more.  I wish I had enjoyed and savored everything more.  It is so difficult now for me to recall these times without crying.  I know the day will come when i will just laugh and remember him fondly with a chuckle and a “Yeah, he was great at that.”  But for now... I remember and cry for the loss of him.  The huge loss of his light in the world, and the incredibly sad and wasteful loss of such a fine human being.  If anyone ever excelled in the art of being human... it was Pascual.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Little signs everywhere

The past few days have been so incredibly hard.  I wake in the mornings and reach out for Pascual only to touch the cold side of the bed.  Full wakefulness just reminds me that it’s not all a horrible dream.  I lay there dazed., numb.. completely empty of all emotion.  Then the tears come... gentle and silent like a tranquil tide.  Each wave is followed by another until I am crushed under the weight of emotions so deep and mournful, I will surely drown.  

I need to get up.  I have to shower.  I should get dressed.  But what is the point?  I pull the covers over my head and burrow down deeper to the safety of my cocoon.  I’m entitled.  My husband just died.  I am becoming a beautiful butterfly.  I’m just in the liquified goo phase.

Calls to coroners, funeral homes, crematoriums and medical examiners all gratefully turned over to my cousin Karl to be handled by him.  Overwhelm is the word of the day.

The baby is fussy.  He has finally learned to fully walk and say Yayo (Pascual’s Grandpa name) 4 days too late.  He keeps looking over our shoulder for Pascual.  He is sensitive to the energy in the house. We’ve been going on lots of walks and giving him lots of extra attention.  But our nerves are raw and his screaming is hard to take at times. We tag team him.  It’s getting easier to manage.  He is typically a happy baby and very easy to soothe.  So we give extra cuddles.  

More calls and cards and checks and flowers arrive daily.  The generosity of people is incredible:  I tried to tell Pascual  that we had a large network of helpful and caring people.  It bothers me that I have to prove him wrong now.  If he had just let me reach out a few week ago, our world might be different today.  

For whatever his reasons... he kept all these things inside.  I knew he was sad.  I knew he was hurting.  But even his therapist didn’t know how bad he really was.  I thought he would snap out of it.   

The things I found in his phone search history haunt me. The exact details of his death as described in the emotionless detailed accounting by the coroner guts me to my core.  In this moment I realize, with his OCD he had thoroughly researched every kind of suicide.  Ruling out any type where I might be sued by another party.  He chose one of the most difficult and slow painful ways to die... all so I would be safe.  Doing it at a hotel so I wouldn’t be the one to discover his body.  Going the extra mile of disengaging his I phone locator so we couldn’t find him and stop him before he succeeded.  

The shopping list and receipt for the Home Depot in his briefcase for the tools he needed to do the job.  The unused things in a bag on the floor of the car.  Still sitting there in the car in front of my house, with the 2 large bags of cat food he told me he would buy next time he went by the feed store.  

His lack of a note, the fact he chose a date 4 days before my birthday... both indicators that he was no longer in his right mind.  The man who loved me would have thought of those little things.  The overdue library books on depression hidden in a pile on his side of the bed.  Cryptic posts on his Facebook page that I never saw because I was off Facebook for 6 weeks after my surgery.  

Guilt eats at me.  If I’d only checked his phone history.  If I’d only read his Facebook posts.  If I’d only not taken my pain pills or even had a surgery,  I might have been aware.

None of these things bring me comfort.  Nothing I could have said or done would have changed anything.  He wanted to keep it secret.  He wanted to Kill himself.  He was ill, he was in pain and he needed emotional support and medication.  This is the reality.  Men often do not ask for help.  There is a stigma surrounding male depression.  A man isn’t a man if he can’t handle his feelings and business.  

I am here to tell you that is crap.  It takes great strength to ask for help.  If my loss and my words can stop one person from taking their life, it’s worth the breath to say them. 

If you are hurting, if you are feeling down, if you have thoughts of suicide, please call the National suicide prevention hotline at    1-800-273-8255  

Please don’t let your family be the next one like me, second guessing and wondering about every single thing you said or did that might have changed your mind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Birthday thoughts


Birthdays have always been a big deal to me. My parents always made it special.  My mom always made the best homemade cakes.  Lovingly decorated as a turtle, or rocking horse or flowers.  There were huge parties with lots of presents and ice cream and me surrounded by family and friends.  

In my early adult life, I had partners that were good at making things special and others that struggled with my birthdays are special concept.  I told my ex husbands that there were only a few days a year that I wanted, needed, required to be treated like a queen.  Anniversary, Mother’s Day and my birthday.  Not too much to ask for 3 days out of a year.  I think a huge celebration on the day you arrived on the planet is the best way to honor the Life well lived.  

One year I didn’t have a spouse on my birthday., we split up the month before.  My sister in law Krissy threw me a party that year, bless her and her beautiful heart.  

I met Pascual the winter before my 40th.  He had just moved to Chicago a few days before my birthday so he couldn’t come to my big 40th bash.  I was disappointed.  Every year since then he worked so hard at making sure he created the perfect birthday for me.  

It usually started out with his beautiful voice singing softly in my ear in English and Spanish.  Then I would get up and there would be a lovely sappy sentimental card, and a joke card, flowers, candy, and a fun day planned.  He usually worked from home and would prepare me a special breakfast and lunch and then take me out to dinner.  Then on the weekend (if my birthday was a weekday) we would go wine tasting.  The last several birthdays I have spent with Paskie,  all the kids and Mom and Teen wine tasting.  They were fun days filled with laughter, sappy cards and lots of wine.  But they were all days I had planned.  One time he said to me “You know... SOMEONE might want to plan a special surprise for someone’s birthday if she didn’t plan the whole thing for herself.”  I laughed and said “ok I won’t plan it.  I want the wine tasting with family on Saturdays but you can plan the Sundays festivities.” 

One year it was a museum to see an antique jewelry exhibit.  Another year it was a shopping spree at my favorite scrapbook store.  There were weekend getaways, trips we took to celebrate both our birthdays.  His in March, and mine in April.  Every one planned with surprises and special touches, always with a lovely card filled with loving words, and wishes of spending our birthdays together for many years to come.  

His birthday this past March I was only 2 weeks post op on my knee replacement.  I didn’t have a card, and couldn’t go get one.  I made his favorite dinner.  It took me all day.  Resting after each step of the food prep.  High on pain pills I managed to pull it off and have it waiting on the table for him when he came in.  China, candles, wildflowers from my backyard.  He took one look and his face lit up.  Thank you darling!  He hadn’t been expecting anything because of my recent surgery and limited mobility.  He was very appreciative of my efforts.  “It means a lot, more than you know.”  This was the last birthday I would have with him.  I’m so glad I made the huge effort to complete the meal.  He was a simple guy.  Never expected a lot but always gave excessively.  He was happy with whatever he got.  I tried to make them all adventures and outings for him.  Like his birdwatching birthday.  That was super fun and he was so happy!  We agreed for my birthday we would do the same, a quiet meal at home, and then take a trip to celebrate both when travel bans are lifted.  We were going to Maui to hike in Hana to the waterfall with my new knee.  

Today I woke up after a restful 7 hours of sleep.  No birthday song sang softly in my ear with a Spanish accent.  

A table covered not with birthday, but condolence bouquets.  A box sits on the table filled with homemade cookies from my sweet friend Sue Brown.  Condolence cards and birthday cards cover the fireplace mantle.  It’s a wierd bittersweet birthday.  Started with sad lonely tears as I woke missing him so much.  Hugging his pillow and breathing in his scent.  I thought it would comfort me but it just made me feel more lonely.  I know in the fog of his pain he never thought about how close the day of his death was to my birthday or how deeply and negatively it would affect me.  He just wanted the pain to stop.  But regardless.... my birthdays will now and forever be shadowed by the anniversary of his death.  Each birthday that ticks down to the time when we would have retired and started our globetrotting life will be a special kind of painful because he’s not here to celebrate them with me.  They will get easier.  The sharpness of the pain will dull.  But the sparkle and shine of each one will be dulled by the ghosts of faded dreams with him that will never happen.  

Today I am numb.  I can’t feel anything.  My eyes, which I thought were completely dried out of tears, are flowing again.  My heart is filled with a mixture of the joys of well wishes from friends and an aching loneliness for the one who has been beside me and filled my soul for the past 15 years.  They were quick years.  A lot happened during them, but they blew by in a flash.  I’m trying to stretch  out the memory of them so I can walk through them slowly and savor each moment.  In future I will have all these memories to hold on to.  But today, in this moment, all I feel is an empty aching loneliness that doesn’t feel like it will ever end.