Solitude became a dear friend of mine when I lost my significant other to cancer.
In those moments of my deepest grief, I have been able to realize just how alone we intrinsically are in the world. I remember that each day felt like a vinyl record—I had to turn it over to play something that deviated from my new norm.
When I had to leave the house I was questioned for not smiling enough. After some time, it seemed like the easiest route was to keep my distance from people. This way I didn’t have to feel any more abhorrence toward the otherwise blameless, outside world.
I started to love being alone. Friendships felt more like a burden than sustenance. How could I answer to their feelings if I couldn’t even control my own? So, I started to dig deeper into this newfound life of desolation. I realized that, at the end of the day, all I have is the comfort of myself—whether I want it or not.
March 20th was the first day of Spring, but each year it also marks the day that I lost my first love. He had a type of cancer that science could not comprehend. After fleshing out my feelings of defeat, I have come to recognize it was a conquest that never could’ve been conquered.
The six-year anniversary of his death came on the day that our nation closed its doors. I was lucky to be able to isolate myself in a rural area rather than the city that I usually call home. I sat in bed longer than usual, and I found it hard to explain to my new partner why this particular day was so arduous.
Although isolation feels hard for others right now, it has already become a key part of my growth—social distancing didn’t sound problematic, and it hasn’t been. For me, it feels as if I have been working up to this moment for the last six years. I see now that I can’t be hurt by this requirement from our government because it’s something I have already learned to do so well—sitting alone, in my own grief.
During this time, I think the world will realize how alone we all are. We will also discover that the essentials really belong to us—to ourselves.
Life is not something that someone can permanently alter, but it is something that we can obtain mental and emotional control over. I cannot change the death of my significant other, but I can choose to cultivate knowledge and strength. I can choose to live a life of independence.
Is it possible that years of isolating and grief are now the things keeping me sane during this pandemic?
On the anniversary of his death, I noticed that I had a strong connection to isolation. I stopped understanding codependency and the need for constant communication. I let the idea of these things fade, along with the feeling that I need someone around to be complete. For some, it may take more time during isolation to realize it.
For all of us, this is the beginning of a life where introspection isn’t selfish, distance isn’t daunting, and the power of our own minds won’t kill us. Grief becomes a journey and dates become a memory.
I never thought I would feel grateful for the sort of preparation I had for today.
“The morning is yet to the nether end of the earth, and he is weary. Bowing the grass in like sadness the dew followed him home and sealed his door.”~Cormac McCarthy, The Orchard Keeper
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