The obituary above is from the book, Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. I found it today while I was googling my late husband. My late husband. My husband who died. He’s dead. I still can’t believe it. I wonder if it will ever feel real.
Losing somebody as close as a spouse or a child or a sibling—anybody who changes your day-to-day—feels like there was a nuclear attack, annihilating everything and nobody seemed to notice. They see that you notice it, but they walk around like everything is still the same. It’s weird. I remember wondering how it was that the world could still go on after Steven died. I still wonder that sometimes.
Saturday, February 27th, 2016 at roughly 10:36 am (as far as my terrible memory can remember), I was hit with a nuclear attack. An atom bomb took out everything in my life. The world became this warped place full of pain and reality ceased to be. Every cell in my body felt the hot pain of acid burning grief and I learned just how unrelenting and tormenting the feeling of yearning can be.
This second year has made reality a little more stark and in my face and yet still somehow unreachable. This second year is a little more bitter and angry. The pain isn’t as white-hot but it’s still there like those horrible chronic sharp aches that can wear on you and you wonder if you will always feel it.
In the first year, I was able to find joy eventually and don’t get me wrong, I’m still able to see the good things in my life. I’m still able to feel joy and happiness but it’s harder and takes more effort. I’m constantly pinching myself to see if this is the real world. I feel like I’ve drifted into somebody else’s body and I’m living her life. But where is she?
It doesn’t feel like I’m even touching the ground sometimes. It’s so unsettling. It’s like I’m floating in space with no idea how to get back down to earth. I have people helping me, though and I know I will get back down there but, man, it’s scary out here in space.
Okay, enough with the analogies. It’s been two years and this is where I am. Even though it feels horrible, there has still been progress. A lot of progress. This is all just part of that grief thing and I’m trying to go through it the best way I can.
The actual 2 year anniversary of Steven’s death was on Tuesday. You know what I did? I hid from it. I ran away from it. I distracted myself. I had to. I needed to and I’m glad I did. I did what I had to do to get through it. No regrets. Losing somebody that significant in your life ain’t easy. It ain’t easy.
But now, now I am facing it a little bit more. Now I am realizing that the passage of time in loss is a scary thing and that’s what I was running from. I didn’t want to admit that it was 2 years. I still don’t. And yet, at the same time, I have all this hope and excitement for the future for so many reasons. It messes with my head. So I had to hide from it for a while. But here I am. I’m here in all my grief craziness not knowing what to do with myself. And that’s okay. Dem’s the rules.
Steven was a beautiful person. He enriched so many people’s lives with creativity and laughter. Man, that guy could penetrate through anybody’s steely resolve. I heard the phrase, “Only for you, Steven,” more times than I could count.
He was in a lot of pain those last few years from an autoimmune disease. A lot of pain. It was heartbreaking and I always felt so helpless on his worst days. But no matter how bad the day was, he always found some time to pick himself up and laugh. To find some joy. To shout profanities in a boisterous and humorous way that told life that his pain wasn’t going to keep him down. And it never did. I try to remember that as often as I can. I try to find that spirit in myself.
One of the million things that I used to love that Steven did was his Native rituals. He worked with a lot of shamans in his life. It started as a way to incorporate shamanic rituals into performance as he always saw Shaman as the first performers. It then led to a life of spiritual awakening for him and the last shaman he worked with, Walking Night Bear, became like family to him and his children.
Every change of the season, he would bring out his drum, his sweet grass and a few other things to perform a native ritual in honor of the solstice. I loved that so much. The video below captures some of that.
His voice and drumming would emanate this beautiful energy that felt amazing. I soaked up as much as I could, every time. I miss that, among a million other things.
You left a big wake in your absence, Steven. Not just for me but for your children, grandchildren, colleagues and many people from your travels who I still get emails from as they discover your obituary. You certainly lived while you were here. You certainly lived.
Well, here we go. On to year three. Onward and upward as you always said. I will still look for you in the ether. I will still look for you in my dreams. I will also continue to do my best to live and live and live again. I’m getting there.