On the floor of my kitchen, back against my fridge.
This is the place where my grief often meets me. It’s the place I found myself when my house was empty for the first time after my husband’s death. It’s the place where I found myself just about every morning for the weeks that followed. It’s the place where I found myself shortly after the phone call about my dad’s death.
It’s the landing place that my emotions direct me to, sliding me down the stainless steel until the wood of the floors finds me and holds me safely for as long as I need it.
It’s the place where I find myself most often when something even deeper than my subconscious knows that I need to feel something, reflect on something, process the magnitude of loss and the reality of where I am today.
Because that’s something they don’t tell you about grief. There are genuinely moments where I can’t possibly reconcile the fact that I am both the person I was then and the person I am now.
But somehow, I can find both of them in this spot, on the floor of my kitchen, back against my fridge.
I’ve heard of this place before, just in different lives with different stories where it exists in different capacities. I’ve read about many grievers with their own despicable, yet admirable, titles — widows, cancer survivors, orphans, bereaved parents — who all have their own place where grief meets them. I’ve heard many lay claim to the bathroom floor, the bedroom floor, I’ve even read of someone who finds herself on the garage floor… oddly it’s usually a floor.
Maybe you’re thinking of your own floor right now… or maybe you’re far more evolved than the rest of us and have upgraded to a spot on the couch, or your favorite pillow in bed.
All this to say… this place is real. And this place is sacred. And mine just happens to be on the floor of my kitchen, back against my fridge.
This is going to be one of those really weird blogs that many of you find uncomfortable. This is going to be one of those blogs where my late husband and my future husband get to inhabit that same written space of these few pages because this blog is just the (incredibly abbreviated) extension of my mind. And Andrew, my late husband and Rocky, my now less than a month in the future husband, they both essentially run the majority of the ecosystem of my mind.
That’s love. And I get that it’s uncomfortable because it really seems like we really should only love one person in this capacity for our entire life, and for many people that is the right response… but sometimes God writes a story like mine… and then I write about it to all of you, and make some of you a bit uncomfortable.
It’s fine, just comment your complaint below. I haven’t quite figured out how to comment back yet on my own website so you can have your two-sense without my petty rebuttal.
The first story stars my late husband, Andrew.
I used to have this little corner dining booth in my kitchen. We bought it about a year after moving into the house. It fit the space perfectly, but it was far from good quality. Once I set my knee on the seat of the bench, and placed all my weight on it when reaching for something. I broke the internal wood just below the upholstery, leaving a small indent in the seat.
This just happened to evolve into Andrew’s seat over the course of that year as his cancer grew, and ravaged, and began to take him. It became his seat because it was the easiest one to plop into. And convenience ended up making it one of the most distinguished places in my home.
It was the place I found him one morning just weeks before he died, sitting and stirring batter for banana pancakes, determined to make his wife breakfast.
It’s the place he beat me and his mom in a game of Uno just days before his last breath.
And it’s the place that after that win, he turned to me, said something snarky then immediately puckered his lips for a grossly exaggerated apology kiss.
It was the very last place that my husband kissed me.
So why is this not the place that my grief finds me?
Well for one, it’s broken. Grief tip number one- vulnerable people should never rely on vulnerable furniture to carry them through a breakdown.
But also, because that was Andrew’s place. It wasn’t mine- mine was the place across the room, on the floor of my kitchen, back against my fridge. It’s the place where I was standing when that song came on, that Andy Grammer song, always an Andy Grammer song.
I am yours
Now and always
Wouldn’t dream to be anything more
You take my breath away every night
Still can’t believe it when you say your mine and
I am yours, I am yours, I am yours
I registered the song, and I stopped looking through the fridge, and I shut the door and I turned, and I saw him across the room from me, looking at me with the same horrid recognition that I’m sure I wore on my own face.
And I remember thinking that I would give anything to go back to that concert we attended the night before his lung surgery, the night before the ordeal that set everything in motion way faster than we could ever combat. I would give anything for him to wrap me in his arms the way he used to before tubes and tumors wielded their way into so many beloved aspects of our life, the way he held me at that concert as he sang this song into my ear.
And in that moment all of that crashed into us, as we took in our reality of hospice, and oxygen machines, and on-the-clock doses of oxycodone.
And I leaned my back against the fridge, and slid gently down to the floor, never losing his gaze. I sat there for the entirety of the song, staring at him as he stared at me while tears silently streamed down both of our faces.
And in that moment, I think we both really came to terms with the fact that maybe he would actually have to leave me. That maybe he wasn’t mine to keep, and I wasn’t his.
It wasn’t the day he signed a DNR. It wasn’t the day they wheeled that grotesque hospital bed into our marital bedroom. It wasn’t even the day that the nurse told me she had no clue how he was still alive.
It was that day, him in his seat at the booth and me on the floor of my kitchen, back against my fridge. It was the first time in my life I ever dared to meet my grief.
I’m not quite as regular of a patron to this location as I was in the earliest days of my grief.
I’ve found that this place holds much less of my devastation here lately, and instead, it has become a place of warm melancholy for me, but not even in a bad way. It’s more of a place where my heart tends to ponder and in that it recalls what it has lost, but only to reflect admirably on what it had the privilege of loving.
And Rocky, my future husband, found me here one day. Not amid breakdown. Not amid a single tear, even.
He was watching TV, and I went to the kitchen, and there was simply something desirable about landing back in that spot right at that moment.
So I did- I leaned my back against my fridge and slid down to the floor. And I sat there for a bit, and I pondered. I pondered the man I married as I sat on the floor of the home I bought and shared with him. I pondered the man I will marry in mere weeks, as I sat in the same home, now being renovated to fit this new life.
And I pondered the many different versions of myself who returned to this spot over the course of two years, and I grieved for every single phase of her.
And then Rocky entered… most likely because I had not yet returned with the snack I had gone off to find for us.
He found me, and I sat there on the floor wondering how I would explain this to him. But I didn’t have to.
Because his reaction was not one that demanded my explanation. It was not even one that contained confusion over the fact that his fiance sat casually on the kitchen floor. It was one of complete understanding.
And then he came over, leaned his back against the fridge and slid down to join me in that place.
And friends, I tell this incredibly long-winded (sorry) story to say that this is how I think you are supposed to love someone in their grief.
So many people see that Rocky makes me happy… and he does.
So many people see that Rocky points me back to the gospel time and time again… and he does.
So many people see that Rocky has helped me move forward in life, and he has.
But the thing you don’t see, is he doesn’t do this by pulling me away from that spot where my grief meets me, like everyone thinks he is supposed to do, like everyone prayed someone would do for me.
Instead, he joins me there. Because that is how you serve a widow. That is how you reach a griever.
That is how you love.