I’m continuing my anniversary vigil, reliving the days that led up to the death of my life mate, my soul mate. This vigil is not so much conscious as subconscious, a feeling that the events of a year ago are happening again. Part of me seems to think I really am there at his deathbed — when I was out walking in the desert today, I found myself wailing, “Don’t go! Please don’t leave me!”
This is so different from last year’s reality. Then, I was concentrating on him, on his suffering, on his need to let go of life, and I never once thought of asking him to stay for me. Would never have subjected him to more pain and suffering. Would never have wished him more days as a helpless invalid. And yet, here I am, today, begging him not to leave me.
Such is grief — a place where time goes backward and forward, stands still and zips ahead.
Perhaps when this first terrible year is finished, when I have experienced this reprise of his death from my point of view rather than his, I will be able to put a lot of my grief behind me and go forward with my life. Though I still don’t know what that life is, where it will take me, or if it will take me anywhere at all. Perhaps all that is necessary is to experience life, and if that is true, well, I have certainly lived this past year.
It’s strange looking back to the long years of his dying. I thought I was ready to leave the emotional burdens and the financial constraints of his illness behind. I thought I was ready to live out my life alone. I even looked forward to the challenges, especially since he told me that when he was gone, things would come together for me. He was a bit of a seer (though he mostly saw doom) so I believed him. But neither of us expected the toll grief would take. (Well, he might have suspected. He was very concerned about me.) I knew I’d be okay, and I am, but I didn’t understand what grief was. (I’d already lost a brother and my mother, but that was not the same as losing my cosmic twin, the person who shared my thoughts and dreams, who lived in the same world I did.) I never expected the sheer physicality of grief, the physical wrenching, the feeling of amputation, the feeling of psychic starvation, the feeling of imbalance in the world, the sheer goneness of him.
Nor did I expect to still be worrying about him. Is he okay? Is his suffering really over?
His death was not a silent one. He moaned for days, though the nurses assured me he was feeling no pain, that he was sighing, that it was a common reaction for those who were dying. I remember standing there, exactly one year ago tonight, listening to him, worrying that he was suffering, and then one of his “sighs” became lyrical, almost like a note from a song, and I knew he was telling me he was all right.
I keep listening for some sound, looking for some sign that he is okay, but today all I hear is silence.