Jilly D.

Identity Crisis

In Grief on December 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

After Sam died, I spent months numb. Slowly I began to think about who I am without him. When you love someone so much and your lives and identities are so entwined, their death feels like yours. A big part of me died along with Sam. I didn’t know myself anymore.

Who am I? I had to Google myself. One of the first items to appear made reference to my first publication (1985). An article about contemporary Iran cited my work and referred to me, the author, as “an expert in the theology of suffering.” I sucked in my breath. What had I known at the age of 22 when I wrote it that made me this expert? Only now did I think I had been conscripted into its curriculum.

Who was that woman Sam had fallen in love with and where had she gone? I didn’t know myself anymore.

Without him there was a vortex of widowhood sucking me under. I did not want to go there. Sitting at the “widow’s table” for family weddings and social gatherings was not where I belonged. I had been cast in a role for which I would never have auditioned and did not want to play. This square peg was not going easily into that hole.

I knew I was a woman who loved flowers. And yet no one sent flowers for the funeral, or afterwards. Not a single blossom. Guess no one else knew me either. Sam knew me. I remember the day he dug up a blue cornflower from the field and transplanted it for me as a surprise for no particular reason.

I am a stranger in a foreign land of lost love. A stranger to myself.


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