When sadness bubbles below the surface

This time of year makes my heart catch. It is the time of year that my late husband Jim began to get noticeably and irrevocably ill. He died on Dec. 7, 2010, from pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis we did not receive until the morning of the day he died.

I try not to think about those days of watching him waste away to a shadow of himself. I try not to see the dullness in his eyes caused by pain and illness instead of the sparkle of impishness I loved so much. I try not to let the terror rekindle that had ruled my mind for so many weeks while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with the love of my life.

But it was all so pervasive and ended in my worst fear becoming a reality, and that is difficult to get past, let alone put aside. I know I was in major denial at the time. My heart knew what was happening; my survival instinct would not accept it.

Jim and Sassy

Jim and Sassy

I want to be braver about that time, accept that I had fears and what happened to us, but I can do nothing about the sadness that seeps in and takes residence for a while.

It is not a clinical depression; more like a melancholy over what I could not control, what I could not change, and how everything changed when the man who was my other half took his last breath.

Everything changed, except the sadness and the feeling of loss. I can never get back the life I loved so much with the person I was meant to be with. I think I have accepted that, yet there are those times when I hear a noise in the house or feel a presence near me and my mind’s response is “Jim is …. “

But Jim isn’t. He never will again. And the reality is a battering ram to my heart every time it happens. Part of me wants it to be a nightmare that will poof when my eyes open to wakefulness, but I know that is not realistic, and then the sadness washes over me.

I’m not sure what I am still trying to sort out in my mind about those terrible months leading up to Jim’s death. It feels like something is not resolved, and that is where the sadness lives, waiting to come out at certain times.

What I am sure of is that the sadness doesn’t predominate my life and it will not stay. For a while, as we go through holidays, our wedding anniversary in November, Jim’s death anniversary in December and now the days leading up to those times, the sadness will live just under the surface of my countenance.

And a song, a moment in time, an action, a group of people might cause it to show itself in a few tears, but don’t be alarmed if you see them. I have come a long way in the last six years. I have a life and it is good.

It just never will be the same.


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.