It’s been two weeks since Justin passed away. Three weeks since we last talked via email and text the night of the event that sent him to the hospital. There has been turmoil and even some ugliness involved that I am beginning to let go of. It’s funny the difference between people who were close to Justin, who spoke with him recently, who have known him and been close to him for the last six years versus those who knew him in the past or have only really known him since he left AZ to go back to NC. I have to remind myself that each person only knows their small piece, but not the whole. I also have to remind myself that the Justin who left AZ for NC in May was not the same Justin prior to the deepening depression. He was a man with a mission, a man marking time.
I’ve struggled since May to find direction. I’ve been in a sort of limbo, waiting. I’ve done things to try to get Justin to choose life, specifically our life together. When one didn’t work, I’d try another. Just the week prior to the event, we spoke of my older daughter’s upcoming delivery. Justin said he was sad that he would never see the baby. We talked about that, that sure, he would see him. When he decided to take the steps to choose life. He knew the steps he needed to take, but he just didn’t see the point. Because all he saw was darkness and disability. And so, during those few months, he took what he could, did what he could, when he could, to get through.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ the last few weeks, even more so than during the last 5 months. I’ve had a bit of anger this week – we worked so hard to create such a good life, and life could have continued to be good – so there has been a feeling of being cheated. I have a couple of people very close to me who have been sounding boards, who have given me a little bit of tough love, and also reminded me a bit about love. And today I got a call from Justin’s best friend of the last 6 years, and I’ve gained a little more perspective.
There are those people closest to us, to me in the last 5 months, who get it. They know what the last 5 months have been for me, and what the year and a half prior were. They know without having to be told, because they’ve been there. There are those who haven’t been there. Who maybe know the past, or maybe interacted with him in the last 5 months but who weren’t there for the year and half of recovery before he went to NC, and who weren’t there for the 4 years prior to his brain injury. I’ve realized that each person Justin touched in some way throughout his life has their own perspective, their own view, of who Justin was and what he offered. Of who they were to him and who he was to them. And each of those perceptions is valid for that person.
And throughout the last 5 months, while I’ve held out hope that Justin would choose life, I’ve held onto the love that we shared. Even when I had to turn off the ‘romantic love’ to make hard decisions that really were the best for not only the two of us, but for his family as well, those things were done from love. I’ve known that the love remained, with every yahoo chat, with every text, with every phone call, and with every click of a like on FB, with every post, and with each person who has contacted me to tell me that he continued to talk to about me, his love for me, and his desire to come home.
I’ll receive his wedding ring and collar in the mail this week from his dad. I’ll receive his boots and his jacket, too. I’ve received a few of his kink items back that were meaningful to me and to us together. The rest are probably never coming back to me, and I’m trying to learn to be okay with that. It’s funny, I never thought I’d be in a position of dealing with that kind of thing. Working out social security and retirement and stock accounts with his dad, each of us trying to handle our own grief while working out the legal details. We had some difficult moments when I was there and immediately after. I was the target of his anger. That anger seems to have subsided and we are working together to get things sorted out. I’m grateful for that. He knew of Justin’s lifestyle and didn’t approve, and so on top of grief, on top of anger, is his desire not to be exposed more than necessary to anyone within the lifestyle. But we seem to have found some peace between us again, and I’m grateful. Due to legal issues, we’re tied together for quite a bit longer, so it makes it easier to handle them.
It’s funny, actually ‘funny’ isn’t the right word, maybe ‘odd’ would be better, but it’s easy to use. I’ve talked to Justin every single day since he went into the hospital. I’ve twice had very long drives and talked to him the whole way. He’s visited me a few times. I know some people see that as kind of freaky. But it’s real. I’ve been struggling for direction. I’ve asked him in these talks to just tell me what to do. I know non-slaves won’t fully get that one, but after 5 ½ years as a surrendered, collared slave, abrupt changes like ours have been can be paralyzing. I didn’t realize that before. I always thought that I would be able to function just fine if something happened to him. And I was while I was serving him. But he’s not been here to serve, or to give direction, and so I’ve struggled. I’m trying to find the way, and I will. Just probably not today.
And when I doubt, when I struggle, when I question if what I know to be true actually is true, I remind myself of Beth’s words, and Lynn’s words, and Catherine’s words, and Fran’s words, and South’s words. And after this morning’s talk, even Allan’s words. What I’m trying to do now is remind myself that Justin has found peace from the pain he’s lived with for a long time. And I’m trying to accept what he told me his desire for me was way back in February when he first talked of dying. That I would grieve for him and be sad for awhile, but then I would find someone who would give me the life I deserve. I haven’t been ready for that for the last 5 months, and I can’t see being ready for that in the near future. Right now I’m still upset that I’m not going to have the life I wanted and planned for. But I’m not going to say ‘never’.
There’s a part of me today that is angry. Why did you let me, make me, put so much effort into your recovery, into us, if you were just going to check out anyway? I’m angry at the pieces left behind for me to clean up. Why, instead of saying, “Goodbye. I love you.”, couldn’t you have said, “Hey, I’ve decided to come home and work on that life we had planned. The one with the rockers on the front porch and all those grandchildren.”? But my head knows that the brain injury took his identity away. And so really, I’m angry at that, not at him. Justin did the only thing he knew to escape the pain and darkness. So I’ll keep picking up the pieces and with each one another piece of my heart will heal. There will always be a hole that will never be filled. But the parts around that hole will heal and not feel so jagged and raw. And eventually, I will find direction and purpose to move forward. Just not today.