I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably continue to say it until there’s a better example: having your spouse transition is like experiencing a death. I can imagine that people who have lost someone important to them would respond to me by saying “at least you can still see your loved one”. The irony is not found in how technically correct that statement is, but in how painful it is to realize. I haven’t been able to explain the pain of this experience to Katie properly, not in a way that resonates or has meaning. That is, I haven’t been able to explain it until we watched the episode of This is Us that aired after the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. If you haven’t watched this episode yet, please note this post contains spoilers, so read at your own discretion.
In the scenes leading up to Rebecca being notified that Jack died, there are small splices of an image of Jack interwoven at random. Each splice is very small in timeframe, maybe less than a second. I would guess this is done to elicit maximum gut-wrenching empathy for the painful news Rebecca receives in the waiting room while eating her candy bar. Well, friends, this editing technique worked. I haven’t seen or read anything that so effectively stripped me of my ability to stay in control of my feelings. I immediately sobbed.
Katie held my hand and commented that the scene was really sad. I explained to her that it was, but what was worse is just how much I identify with the pain being experienced. Looking at Katie, I’m not just looking at my wife, but at the splices of memory which are inhabited by my husband as well. Eating dinner (splice!) and the image of Kyle strumming the baguette like a guitar comes up. Driving in the car (splice!) the memory of Kyle singing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus on our way to the beach is as clear as if I’d traveled back in time to experience it again. Sitting in our apartment playing King of Tokyo and (splice!) we’re walking along Alki watching the rain roll in as the sun peaks out of the clouds, outlining each building of the Seattle skyline in a golden halo. As time goes on, I’ve gotten better at pushing these memories away, better at trying to see them as Katie and not Kyle. That said, I can’t help but think there was a time where I would be watching This is Us and not crying at how real the pain of that loss feels to me.
When the episode ended, I asked Katie what she was thinking. She couldn’t really tell me, something I’ve gotten used to as she is still trying to tap into her emotional side. I asked her if she got it now that we had watched that episode, if she had ever thought about what I’m going through in that context. Katie said she hadn’t thought of it that way and she understood it better now. We went to bed and I asked her to hold me until I fell asleep. We are coming up on 5 months since The Outing (on 2/9/18). I wish I knew if this would get any easier. Can we fast-forward to the end yet? Anyone?