Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dead man is dead: Anger redux

As I have mentioned here before, right after A died, I felt like I got a lot of communication from him; lots and lots of signs, and a couple actual visits where his presence was undeniable.  And I've talked about how much that helped me heal, because I realized that he wasn't gone forever, that he just hadn't ceased to exist, and that we'd probably run into each other somehow once I shuffled off this mortal coil.  And I've lamented how, as time has worn on, the signs have become less frequent, dreams of him rare, and the visits?  Those disappeared within the first year.

On an intellectual and metaphysical level, all that makes sense to me.  I have healed; if life goes on, we have to assume it doesn't involve our loved ones who have crossed over sitting around twiddling their ghost thumbs waiting for us to show up.  Life goes on for us and for them.

But I have been sad to feel him slipping away.  I have so little of him now, that to lose even the wisps of him that remain to me seems like insult to injury.  But I realized yesterday that sad isn't all I'm feeling about it.  I realized that I'm angry, too.  Because yet another level of what death means to me, on this side of it, is sinking in:  When people die, they leave you.  And they leave you again and again beyond the first hit.

This may seem self-evident, and something I should've dealt with in the early years of my grief (which, I could argue, is still now; I mean earliest years).  And you know, I did, but that doesn't mean it's a once-and-done kind of thing.

Because sometimes in the dark of night, in the quiet of my own mind, I speak to him and say, "You know, if you wanted to come by in dreams, I'd really love to see you."  And he doesn't come.  He almost never comes.  And the next morning, I am hurt, and sad, and angry.  "HOW DARE YOU LEAVE ME FOR GOOD?"  "HOW DARE YOU TAKE WHAT LITTLE I HAD LEFT OF YOU AWAY FROM ME?"  "HOW DARE YOU WITHHOLD YOURSELF FROM ME LIKE THAT?"

I don't care about the rules of the universe.  I don't care about logic.  I don't care if it's absolutely nuts to expect to communicate across the veil.  What I care about is that I am calling for him and he isn't answering.


If he had never done it, I guess I wouldn't miss it.  (And if he hadn't, I don't know what I would've become, or how crooked or hopeless my path to healing would've been.)  But because he did, and because I know it in my bones that he did, and could, then I have to wonder why he can't, or won't, now.  And I don't get those answers; there's no explanation yet again for his disappearance, just like there wasn't when he died.  This echoes that, and I wonder yet again why I received such gifts, of the man, of the messages once the man died, only to have them taken away without warning or justification.

And it pisses me off.  I am angry.  He left his baby.  Twice.  And he couldn't be arsed to even let me know he was going, either time.

They leave you again and again.  They leave you as their bodies go into the ground or into the flame.  They leave you when you can finally move their books.  They leave you when their stuff goes to Goodwill and the dump.  They leave you as their families fall away.  They leave you as memories fade, and you can't quite remember the sound of their voice.  They leave you when you stop feeling their presence in your day and in your dreams.  And with each leaving, you sink into a new, deeper understanding of what "dead" really means, what "for the rest of your life" really means. 

What it means for me is that I cannot hold tight forever to the life preserver he threw me after he died.  I thought I could, but evidently, someone, maybe him, has gently pried my arms from it and walked away with it, leaving me on the deck to figure out what they meant by that.  I thought I would have it with me every day going forward; I thought it, that he, would be my secret companion, that death didn't count for me quite as much because we had this connection that transcended death; that I had a back-channel I could rely on when the missing him became too much, as it does from time to time. 

And maybe we do.  And maybe it's true.  But what is also true is that I don't have my life preserver near to hand anymore, and while I do know how to swim, while I may not be drowning and don't strictly need it, I want it…just in case.  Because nobody tells me nothin' about how this life and death business works, and I want all possible resources at my disposal to deal with it.  And more than that, I want him, or whatever part of him I can still have.  And memories are all I seem to be allowed, after all.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Not used to being used to it

Nothing surprises me about widowhood anymore, other than that I am still so often surprised at how I'm not surprised anymore.

Parse that, will ya?

At lunch today, I was packing up my guitar and accoutrements because I have my lesson right after work.  As is my habit, I kissed my fingers and touched them to the glass of the picture frame that holds one of my favorite (and somewhat visually prescient) photos of A.  And as I walked out of the room, I shook my head at how normal that had become.  That it didn't even have much emotional content beyond "Hi, sweetie, I love ya!" 

This is normal:  I am in love with a dead man whom I kiss by proxy through glass, and that's just how it is.

I suppose this is where I tell myself I think too much.  This is where I remind myself that this is what I suffered so much for, what I worked so hard for—to create a new kind of relationship with my sweetie under our new circumstances so that I could bear to keep breathing without a pain in my chest, an ache in my heart, and guilt in my soul. 

I've done it.  I kiss his picture on my way out the door, with a breezy mental "I love you," in contrast to those teary 5-10-minute goodbyes every night in the early days after he died where I stared at his picture through flooded eyes and asked for the umpteenth time "Why?"  It's so strange.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not complaining.  I wouldn't go back to that pain again for anything; a less acute version of it finds me often enough as it is.  But I can't help but be astonished at what I've gotten used to, and sometimes the surreality of it just smacks me between the eyes.  In those moments, I am startled again that this story is not just any story, it's MY story.  This all really happened.  To me!  It's still happening to me, because I'm still happening.  I wonder if there's a part of me that will always stand back from my life and say "no way…no fucking way" in total disbelief.

Life, for all its mundanity and habit and sheer endurance, blows my mind on a regular basis.