Two years, two months, two weeks, and two days. That’s how long my life mate/soul mate has been dead, and I still can’t make sense of it all — our meeting, the years we shared, his death, my continued life.
Neither of us had every expected (or wanted) to share a life with anyone, and yet we spent more than three decades together. Our meeting was almost miraculous. In a fit of loneliness, he wished he had someone, and the next week, I walked into his store. We started out with such hope, but our life together was no fairy tale. Much of it was wonderful, more vital than anything I could ever have imagined, yet we were trapped by various failures, not the least of which was his increasingly poor health. I was so tired of it all, so exhausted by trying to hold myself together, that a few times that last year I wished he’d die and get it over with. I never said it aloud, of course, but he knew. How could I have been so horrid? Shouldn’t I have been more patient? Wiser? Kinder? It’s a terrible thing, knowing I am not the woman I thought I was.
During the last few weeks of his life, we reconnected, and I remembered why I loved him.
And then he was gone.
I don’t understand how he can be dead. Well, obviously, I understand the biology of it — I watched him die a bit every day for a lot of years — but the man I knew in the form I knew is gone. Forever. I can’t wrap my mind around that. Even worse, I am forgetting him. My memories are drifting off-center, and I no longer feel the truth of him.
People used to tell me that he still exists in memory, but if so, he is dying a bit more every day. There could come a time when I don’t remember him, when I only remember his absence. I can feel it happening already. Some days now it seems as if he were a stranger I knew long ago rather than a person with whom I spent most of my waking hours for more than half my life. I don’t know whether I should cling to the memory of him, even if it is skewed, or if I should let the memory of him fade and simply deal with what life brings me every day.
I don’t understand my continued life, either. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she felt shattered into a thousand pieces after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds? All these months later, I still don’t know how to deal with his death. Don’t know why I continue to be sad. Don’t know why I feel his absence acutely when I barely remember him.
Mostly I’m trying to look at the future as an adventure, but I’ve had so many immense changes in my life in the past few years, with more on the way, that I feel as if I have no foundation to build on. That feeling, at least, is not true. I have the foundation of all I have done, all I have learned, all I have become — what I don’t have is certainty and security (though no one really does).
And most of all, what I don’t have is him. But perhaps I never did? It could be we were simply passing by and stopped to visit awhile before we continued our journeys. Alone.