After the constant stream of visitors and the non-stop activity that had come with the past week, I didn't know what to do with myself on Saturday. Just as suddenly as everything had started, it had now ended. The last of the family from out of town left for home that morning. There were a few phone calls from neighbors checking on me, a couple of friends came by to make sure I wasn't alone, and Trey, Emily, and my mother were still at the house with me. But compared to the last four days, it was extremely quiet and lonely. I spent a lot of time just walking around, both inside and outside, wondering what I was supposed to do next.
I knew life was going to be different now, but I was sure I could handle it. I knew I would miss Eddie, but I didn't think his being gone would be extremely hard for me to adjust to. After all, I had been alone many times before. Why? ... because Eddie was an alcoholic. He had battled the disease (and yes it IS a disease) off and on for many years. Just a few months earlier he had spent six weeks in a rehabilitation center. During that time we couldn't see or even talk to each other. Our only contact was through letters, and Eddie was never one for writing very much. Even when he was home, I was still "alone" much of the time because his drinking took him away from me. I had survived that, I would survive this too.
I had my plans laid out (those who know me know that's how I do everything - with a plan). I had been out of work for the past week. There were two more weeks of school before a week of spring break. I would take those next three weeks to get my life together then return to school in time to give the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) to my class. I would be fine by then. That would be a month since Eddie's death. That should give me time to grieve shouldn't it? After all, I had made it through the first two stages of grief - shock and denial - in only one week. I could devote a week each to the remaining three stages - depression, anger, and acceptance. I could handle this with no problem - or so I thought.
When I Must Leave You
When I must leave you for a little while,
Please do not grieve and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you through the years,
But start out bravely with a gallant smile;
And for my sake and in my name
Live on and do all things the same,
Feed not your loneliness on empty days,
But fill each waking hour in useful ways,
Reach out your hand in comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you and hold you near;
And never, never be afraid to die,
For I am waiting for you in the sky!
We part with our loved ones but not forever
If we trust God's promise and doubt it never!
-Helen Steiner Rice