Twenty-one months ago, my life mate/soul mate died. How much is a month in grief time? A year? If that’s the case, then today I have reached my 21st birthday in the world of grief. Sometimes it feels as if twenty-one years have passed since his death, our shared life so distant that it could be a dream conceived in present-day loneliness. Other times, it seems as if a mere twenty-one days have passed, as if he recently left — or I did — and soon I will be going home to resume my life with him. Sometimes the pain of separation feels old, as if it is a long-faded scar, other times it feels fresh and raw. Sometimes I see him as clearly as if we’d just parted, other times I have to struggle to remember what he looked like.
During the first year after he died, I was focused on getting through the pain so I could start a new and wonderful life. Somewhere deep inside, beneath thought, resided the feeling that only a great good could offset such a trauma, and I wanted to be ready to embrace my new life. Perhaps something wonderful will happen, but so far, I’m still struggling with the same old life, still struggling with a vast and unending loneliness.
I’ve been making friends, trying to assuage my loneliness, but always I feel his absence. He was the only person who ever truly listened to me, listened beyond my words to the truth of what I was saying, and no matter what I said, he never filtered it through his own prejudices, opinions, and emotions, but could talk dispassionately and intelligently about even the most passionate subjects. Electric energy crackled between us when we went on one of our ping-ponging conversational excursions from history to music to movies to philosophy to books to science and back again to history. I know I should be grateful for having him as long as I did, and I am grateful. I should be glad we were able to converse the way we did since that is something so few people have. And I am glad. But still, life is bleak without his being here to pong my pings, conversationally speaking.
I’m trying not to think about where to go from here, trying to trust in the rightness of my path wherever it will take me, but to do so somehow makes me complicitous in his death, as if I’m agreeing it was right that he died. Oddly, back then, I was glad he died. He’d suffered enough, and death was the only way to end his agony. The further away I get from his death, the worse it gets because I only remember that he died. How can he be dead? I don’t even know what “dead” means, just that he is gone from this earth, and has been gone for twenty-one months.