The clock striking midnight signals the turn of a new day. Shadow dominates giving darkness the space it needs to thrive. I lie here awake holding your “hand”. I open my eyes, unable to pierce the thick void of nighttime blackness, staring at a ceiling I know is there.
Slowly the shadow of a light fixture takes form bathed in the soft red glow of the nightlight spilling along the spine of the en-suite. Other shadows take shape and although their objects are familiar, they appear menacing to a sleep addled brain. For a split second, I grip your “hand” tighter in an almost childish unease, but then logic flows in and my brain settles itself.
It takes a few more seconds to realize that the comfort generated by the holding of your “hand” is also an illusion, self generated, a brain remembering the feel of your warmth, the strength in your hand, the weight of your presence. Illusory because there is no hand to speak of, no presence beside me, nor weight, simply an empty shirt that long faded of your scent. I find comfort in the mere memory of those things and in that sense, my brain has learned to comfort itself.
I roll over to lay my head on your “chest” and hold “you”. I recall the soft rise and fall while your breath, warm and restful, flowed gently in and out feeding the life within. I feel it below my fingers as though you’re still here. I remember the uneven rhythm of your heart and in the darkness my ears falsely perceive the low thump-thump, thump-thump, pause, that they used to know so well. The memory of you is so real, so life-like that a part of my brain gains voice and screams it’s scream of a thousand days, “It’s not true! It was a mistake! He’s still here!”
A tear slips from my eye and soaks into your shirt. My heart begins to clench tight against the pain starting to flood in. Several other parts of my brain angrily shush the scream and overpower it, relegating it to its out of reach subconscious prison. It is a false voice and not to be paid any mind. But the pain has been released and there’s nothing left to do but allow myself to feel it, to grapple with the dissonance of doubt and disbelief it spawns anew; as it has each and every single one of these 1000 days without you.
How does one describe the lingering pain of a loss of this magnitude? How do you explain the freshness of it still after such time has passed? How do you convey the emptiness of your very soul? I feel as though a limb has been amputated and I sit here feeling it’s every sensation as phantom. Sometimes a light turns off on its own, or a toilet flushes and I want so badly to believe I live with a ghost and not the faulty fixtures of my cold reality. And other times I even smell you. I smell the you that was familiar, that was never more than twenty feet from me for all of our time together; the You to our Us.
I walk through Our home, still filled with the essence of our Us-ness and it comforts me to think that there are still minuscule fragments of your physical You scattered about as dust living in the cracks and crevices; naturally shed hairs or epithelials a testament to your once celebrated existence in life. You are still all around me, protecting me, enveloping me in arms that can now move through walls we once filled with laughter, love and life.
1000 days after you and my life continues, incomplete, a piece of my very soul amputated without warning. I move through my days trying to acclimatize to this still so fresh-to-me reality, while everyone else whose moved on, glances back at me in frustration.
1000 days have passed in a blur.
But I have memories of us doing things there is no way time would have allowed; that hike we took with the dog – but the dog didn’t come to me until months after you were gone..?..
Confusion ensues and the mind once again spins and tumbles trying to make sense of a fractured pattern it was so used to coding; inserting inaccurate data, making mistakes that I then must consciously and tediously fix for it. All while coming face to face with that cold harsh reality; you don’t exist anymore.
And the pain resurfaces anew,
1000 days after you.
(Dedicated to the memory of my loving husband)