The mind is a strange piece of bodily equipment. By all accounts, if there is any truth to the way our society treats people like me and my kids, we should be healing. The pain should lessen, the longing getting shorter, the whole thing.
But as we draw nearer to the year anniversary of her passing into whatever realm Andrea walks now I don’t see the world in those terms. Maybe it works that way for others. Maybe they don’t have bouts where they can’t sleep because the bed is just too empty. Maybe their kids don’t wake up at four in the morning in order to make sure that their Dad and all their siblings are still there, in the house, breathing and OK. Maybe they look up after watching the television and know how long they’ve been sitting on the bed and know if it’s dark ourside or light.
For my part, I can’t tell some days. Some days I look at the world and it’s moving just fine, my feet walking across the spinning crust with no cause to think twice about what’s going on. There are days I see the attractive woman on the train and don’t feel guilty for thinking that she is attractive. Most days, though, I trudge along trying to get from moment to moment. I want to think it will get easier. Hell, as bad as it seems, sometimes, it is easier. I don’t have the physical pain that used to be there in the days and weeks after. Now, as I reminisce about the past, finding pictures from the days and months where I first fell in love with my wife, the stories flood through my brain in flashes and speeding visions. They hit at an alarming rate, my brain turning me to the same babble as the Mad Hatter in Alice’s adventures.
I found so many lovely photographs, the gorgeous, twinkling smile shining back at me. Some were from before or just after we were engaged.
Others were from the night we were married or our Honeymoon, delayed because I didn’t have to money to take us on the trip right away. These things give me pause, making me smile, sure, but then I see her there and my brain goes into overdrive again. I realize that I won’t see that face again. I cannot feel the warmth of her next to me in the bed. All those “healing” moments they speak of just aren’t as quick or easy as they want me to believe they are. It’s not just a physical attraction or the physical act. If that were all it was I wouldn’t have ever fallen in love.
Love, at least for me, wasn’t all there was to it. Love isn’t all there is to the life we had. Love gave us our oldest daughter, but it was also an emotion that complicates things. We had barely a year as husband and wife before we became parents. If love was all there was to our relationship we would never have made it. If it was simply falling in love that brought us together we wouldn’t have survived the intimacy issues brought on by the horrible damage inflicted on her by the jerk that took advantage of her and date raped her. Love is a catalyst. What kept us together was the fact that we fit. We were best friends. Infatuation gave way to longing which gave way to love and then to understanding. I spent every day with my best friend. I know that sounds cheesy, but there it is. I loved her and I liked being with her.
Like so many friendships, we had cool times. But unlike that poker buddy of yours, you have to make it work when you disagree. You go into the same bedroom every night. That’s where knowing you love that person helps you to climb over the hump. The various pieces of your relationship meet and complete the entire picture for you. Without one you cannot have the other. It is also part of the reason why I cannot simply say that I can see the possibility of dating or falling in love again. It’s not just falling in love that creates such a lasting and wonderful relationship. I was lucky enough to be the best of friends with Andrea for a period of a couple years before we started dating. Once we realized how much more we were feeling the love became even more precious to us because we didn’t just love each other, we liked being together. Love is an intense and amazing thing. Love with your best friend is simply the greatest feeling in the world.
Now, after the relationship has come to a sudden end, the love remains. Sure, I talk with Andrea. The kids, Noah in particular, pray and talk to her. That’s all that there is, though. Like a relationship centered on love with no intimacy or friendship, it’s doomed to diminish. That’s where I stand. I love her, I still hold onto the woman there I met and spent all that time with, but she’s not there now. I’m trying to hold onto a relationship that centers only on the love and has only the memory of those other things. The difference being those other things are so embedded in my DNA that I cannot let them go.
I get it, and I know what you’re all going to say. It doesn’t change very fast. It doesn’t heal that quickly. It’s only been a year. I get that, sure, but I also know that the part of me holding onto it doesn’t want to let go.
It’s fast approaching a year, a week from moving the clocks forward, and I still don’t know if it’s dark or light. That’s the problem. Part of me doesn’t want to know.