Last week, E and I joined some folks from the online bulletin board where I met A in Vegas, where we got to visit and get to know each other in meatspace. It was a nice enough time. I thought often how, had he been here, A would've shown up, too.
Last night, I got a private message from one of the participants about photos of the gathering. I took exactly 3, 2 of which were of my gorgeous bathroom; I just didn't feel like carrying a camera around, and I wasn't going to post them anyway. I'm anonymous at all my bulletin boards, as are most of the others in our group. I explained that to him, and he said he was sorry I wouldn't, sorry that people would miss out on my "wonderful smile."
I appreciated the compliment. No one has complimented my smile since A; no one has commented on it at all except for noting its absence or limited enthusiasm in the last 4 years. A loved my smile, loved making me laugh, and he told me so. He appreciated my smile, and he appreciated me in a way more whole than anyone has my whole life. I always felt like I sparkled in his eyes. Maybe that's because it was new love, and maybe now it would be different. I don't know. But I loved that feeling, and loved him even more for making me feel...special.
I also appreciated the compliment because it may indicate that I have learned to smile fully again. I caught myself many times while we were there laughing loudly; maybe too loudly, I wondered, but brushed it off. Laughter should be loud, and full, and uninhibited, and echo across a world where we have so much reason to weep. I have earned it.
Since Vegas, and last night's PM, though, I find A is on my mind a lot, and that I'm given to conjuring up images of him in my head, both memories of my own and imagining him in situations I never saw him in. Just bringing him here, to me. I am okay, as I told the one person who asked (she, too, is a board widow, but without the support system I've been lucky to have from a widda posse), but I miss him so much, too.
Lately, I've been wrestling a bit with this new duality--not with a lot of angst, but I can't really reconcile it. Maybe I'm not supposed to? When A first died, there was the duality of "This is cannot be true" vs. reality; then there was the duality of "I'm supposed to keep living" vs. "God, I feel so unimaginably, indescribably awful, death would be a relief." Then there was the duality of "I'm healing" vs. "I don't really want to move forward." There was a long stretch of "I'm existing" vs. "I'm living." And now I'm here, where I am largely in a good place...except for those moments I'm not. And except for the wound that appears healed from the outside but is still an empty space inside me. It doesn't hurt most of the time, but the emptiness of "nothing I can do" is palpable. It's like the space where a tooth has fallen out; it doesn't really hurt, but you can't quite leave it alone; your tongue keeps examining the space where something used to be.