The day Mike died, I received an amazing amount of support. People came and there was so much to plan for in a short amount of time. I did not have much time to think, only in the mornings as the sun was rising. These were the moments I would cry and repeat to myself that I cannot believe he is dead. Trying to get all of the anguish, fear and sadness out before anyone else would wake up. As the sun would rise and I would feel the warmth all through my body, I would wonder how I was going to survive another day without him. But I would gather my strength for the day and walk inside.
After the funeral, life seemed so strange and at times I wished that this was all a dream. Each night I would fall asleep, if I slept at all, crying. I would look at the empty space next to me where Mike used to lay. Some nights I did not know how much more I could stand. It seemed as though the emptiness was consuming me. So I would lay where Mike would sleep. I would smell the pillow and close my eyes absorbing anything I could of him.
There were days when I would be challenged with getting out of bed. The needs of my children helped with that. I knew they needed me and I was able to ignore what I was feeling. It was easier to ignore myself and focus on my children. Although this was completely unhealthy I eventually learned how to manage both time for myself and my children. It was really hard for me to do.
I think after everyone leaves after the funeral you feel more alone. There continued to be constant reminders that Mike was gone. His car sat in the garage, my bed was empty, I could not talk to him and our 2-year-old would ask about his daddy. He would say ” mom, my daddy died, right?”. Hearing those words from an innocent child’s mouth creates such instant sadness. We had to continue to live our lives, go back to our routine, but I did not know how when Mike was part of the routine. I learned how to pick up all the pieces to move through our lives without my husband.
I remember how I could sit in a room full of people and would still feel alone. It was like I had forgotten how to connect with others or maybe I just didn’t want to. I felt like a stranger to myself for quite some time. Until I realized that for so long I was Mike Gallagher’s wife and we were connected, even seemed to have developed into one person. What I had to learn was to be an individual again and still stay connected with Mike. He was an intricate part of my life and I wanted him to remain there. He is still a part of our lives, he just holds a different place now. I recreated myself. Somehow that made me feel less alone and capable of being a part of the world again.