My life mate/soul mate died of inoperable kidney cancer on the 27th of March, 2010, and today is the twenty-seventh twenty-seventh I have managed to survive. Some such dates are fading — I no longer count the days or weeks, no longer count my sad Saturdays (he died on a Saturday, and always on Saturday, I feel an upsurge of sorrow), but I am still very aware of the day of the month he died.
This twenty-seventh month marks a big change. For the first time in my long odyssey, I am more grateful for what I had with him than I am sorrowful for what I didn’t have. I can even smile when I think of him, though I don’t think of him as often as I used to. For the first two years of my grief, he consumed my thoughts. It was as if I were afraid to stop thinking of him, lest he disappear completely from life and memory. Despite that vigilance, my memories of him are fading, and while I still feel the sorrow, still feel the immense hole in my life, I am forgetting the particulars. Forgetting, even, what he looked like.
This forgetting seems like a death in itself, but I can’t keep him here by thinking of him. Though I wish with all my being that he were strong and healthy and living, he is gone. And I am not.
In recognition of this, I have put away the only two photos I have of him. I could not bear to look at the pictures for the first fifteen months after he died, but I gradually inured myself to the sight of them. For a while, the images brought me comfort, but now they only remind me of my sadness. Maybe someday I will set out the photos again; meantime, I am learning to survive without this crutch. The photos might not be a crutch so much as a reminder, or maybe simply something to talk to, but whatever these pieces of paper are, they are not him.
I am still beset by tears and fears, and there’s a chance I always will be. His death seemed to open a crack in the EveryThing, and I could almost feel the winds of eternity. Some of the wildness of my grief and the accompanying panic came from this contact with a truth I am not yet capable of understanding. I don’t know what I will become because of the experience, but even though I don’t feel any different, I know I have changed in some fundamental way.
I am weary of trying to find my way, weary of trying to work around the immense hole he left behind, weary of trying to emphasize the good in my life. Perhaps one day, I won’t have to expend so much effort to find ways and reasons to live. I will simply . . . live.