I lost something today. It wasn’t important in the grand scheme of life and death, but it was important to me. It made me feel good, for one thing, and it was perfect, for another. I can cobble together a replacement, but I will never find the joy that I did in the original item. It was a symbol, in a way, of my struggles to create a new life for myself, and now . . . well, now the symbol is gone. But only the symbol. My new life is still here. I am still here.
In two days, it will be the fourth anniversary of the death of my life mate/soul mate. The fourth anniversary of my new birth. I’ve come a long way in those years, so much so that I’m not sure the woman I was would recognize the woman I am today, but the inexplicable loss of this symbol reminded me of that other loss, the most important one I ever experienced, and I can’t stop crying. I haven’t cried for him in a long time. When I think of him, I don’t try to hold on to the thoughts as I have in the past. I just let them drift away. But today, when I felt that sick sinking feeling of an inexplicable loss, I was reminded once again that he is gone.
Sometimes it feels as if he’s been gone for decades, yet in some respects, his being gone is still very new. My plans, my thoughts, my dreams continue to be tinted through the dark glass of his goneness. Someday, as he recedes even further from me, the influence of his absence will wane. Or perhaps not. The truth is, it’s his death that inspires my life. He faced the end so courageously, I can only face my life with as much courage. In a strange sort of way, his death set us both free, he from pain, and me from being tied to an invalid (which he would have hated — he always told me that if he ever became incapacitated, I was to walk away. But I couldn’t). A small life, a life of not much, a life of not trying new things would dishonor that act of freedom.
I no longer expect him to call and tell me it’s time to come home, as I did for the first couple of years after he died. I no longer feel his vast goneness from my life, yet I always miss him. I’ve stepped back from the abyss of death, back into a celebration of life. I’m adding so much to my life — friends, excursions, dance — that I feel silly at times for still yearning for one more smile from him. I guess if I want smiles, I’ll have to generate them myself.
And I will. Just not tonight.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.