I realised I had never actually done so. His children did, when they came from interstate to visit him shortly before he died. They came specifically to say goodbye, knowing they would not see him alive again. I particularly remember his youngest, who came later than the others, on the last day of his visit kissing his father and saying, 'Goodbye, Dad.' It was so clear to me that he was, in full awareness, saying his final goodbye. (Was it clear to Andrew too? Probably.) I remember doing the same with my father, many years previously. But I never did that with Andrew.
He was ten and a half years older than me. In recent years, as his health deteriorated, we realised that, barring accidents, he was likely to go first. 'You'd better come back and haunt me!' I told him repeatedly, 'or you'll be in big trouble when I catch up with you!' I wasn't really joking. In his last year, when it became apparent that he was in decline, I kept saying to him, 'Don't leave me!' For most of those months he assured me he had no intention of doing so. But during his last hospital stay, and again at the nursing home afterwards, there were times when he knew and tried to tell me that he was in fact leaving me — only I wouldn't cooperate with any such conversation. I knew he was dying, yet clung to some small hope that it could be postponed a few more months. And when, in the hospital, he said gently, 'I think it's time for us to break up now,' I insisted that even if he were to 'go into another dimension', we wouldn't break up; we'd always be united. I thought I was reassuring him, but I was really reassuring myself — and in doing so I robbed him of the chance to have that goodbye conversation with me, and robbed myself too.
I did set him free at the end, on that very last day when I sat with him as he did his dying. A close friend had asked, very perceptively, if I was ready to let him go. I realised he might be hanging on past his time for my sake — and by then his physical state was such that it would have been cruel to keep him lingering. And so I whispered in his ear the words of release. I certainly didn't wish to impede him by clinging!
Yet afterwards I still clung. I didn't think I was, but I see now that on some level I was trying to live as if I were still in the marriage; still absolutely reluctant to say goodbye. I have been blessed with some communication from him since his death, but I have been wanting and seeking even more, as if we could continue on in the relationship in much the same way, only in different dimensions.
After the message of the dream, I knew I must finally say goodbye. I decided to make a ritual of it on the night of the full moon. But first I communicated psychically via Reiki II: one final conversation, so as to be complete with each other. When it came to it, there really was nothing much to say. We actually did get all the important stuff said during his life — the acknowledgment of the love on both sides, the appreciation, the thanks.... Now we reiterated these things one last time.
He told me that he would not be reincarnating again during my present lifetime, so there would be no point looking for him in anyone else. And he confirmed that I must let him go now, and assured me I was capable of doing so.
He said, 'It's so much bigger here. You'll understand when you get here.' I had the sense that it was beyond his ability to explain in terms I could understand now — and yet in a strange way I felt I did understand, emotionally rather than logically.
He said he wanted me to be happy, that I should go on and live my life — and that if I had to do some crying first, that was OK, 'just get on with it.'
Again I was reluctant to say goodbye. Then I remembered something I have often quoted to others and even told myself in the past: 'There is never any use dwelling on goodbyes. It is not the being together it prolongs; it is the parting.' (I can't even remember at this point what famous person said it.) I dare say it was Andrew who put it into my head just then, reminding me. Anyway, I got the point. I stopped procrastinating, just said, 'Goodbye, Andrew' and concluded the session.
There was no moon visible; our skies were black behind sheets of rain. For the first time I used the little indoor altar I recently set up in the bedroom. That meant that, when I cast circle, the bedroom became the sacred space — which seemed appropriate.
I called the Goddess and God and the spirits of the elements to bear witness to the goodbye I had just made to Andrew. I had not waited for the ritual to swap my wedding ring to the other hand. I had done that without ceremony earlier in the day, as well as putting away our wedding photo and also our last photo as a couple, taken only a few days before he died. I spent some time rearranging my rings, deciding to start wearing some which I seldom had before except on special occasions. So when I came to do the ritual, I was wearing my rings the new way, and I called on the Beings present to witness this too.
Finally I called them to witness that I formally laid claim to Andrew's possessions, which he left me (apart from a few bequests to his children). I had been tending to think of some things as still his.
These formalities have created a psychological shift. I hate funerals and deliberately did something different from that to honour Andrew's passing — but a funeral is a way of saying goodbye and freeing people to move on. Without that, I finally had to devise my own way, after a nudge from my unconscious.
It has made a difference. I feel much freer, for instance, to dispose of his things. I had already done some of that, but the ritual claiming of them has removed a sentimentality which doesn't serve me in practical ways. It's easier now to throw out items like his old coffee machine, which he brought to the marriage. He used to be so proud of it, and used it with aplomb. In recent times we didn't do a lot of entertaining and it was more practical to use a plunger, even for guests. So I thought I might give the machine to the op shop. Then I discovered that, after standing unused in the cupboard for so long, it was actually starting to disintegrate. I ended up keeping the glass jug, which may be useful, and putting the rest aside for the hard rubbish collection. Only the day before, I'd have felt ridiculously reluctant to get rid of it, because he once treasured it.
Some effects of the ritual are not so good, but must be lived through. Now I'm REALLY doing my grieving, having finally faced up to the fact that he's gone. I know love never dies, and I know I could call on him if I was in need, but for all practical purposes I'm on my own now — and it sucks. I'm finally experiencing all the sobbing and wailing that only happened in increments before.
At times I still find myself in anguish over the difficulties he experienced at the end of his life. But that always comes down to the thought, 'That's over now.'
I just had a conversation with my niece, in which I remarked that I am having to learn how to be on my own. She said,
'But you know how to do that. You've always been an independent person'. She's known me all her life; I guess she might be right. I do have what's known as inner resources. And, since Andrew died, I've been getting out and about more than I could while caring for him. I'm even making new friends.
'It's all good,' I said to her. Then I said,
'No, it's a bugger. But what can you do?'