The real me exists in the late afternoons as the sun is waning, in those moments when there is a stillness to the air and my heart and soul feels the shattering grief of missing you, as I wander back over the years to all those moments we had in this same hour, as we’d sit in the gazebo on our swing in the backyard and meander through my gardens and your day, as we’d hike a trail, as we would slow our day down and revel in our togetherness…
This gloaming time, as the sun falls, is when I can let fall this warrior goddess armor that allows me to create my life without you and just let my heart be what it is, which is broken and shattered and missing you and your arms around me and your strong chest and shoulders that supported and encouraged me and made me feel strong and invincible.
These night-time hours, when sister Moon is high overhead and I shift and move and turn in my bed in this Oasis I’m painting with color and love because I can’t hug you and touch you and hold your hand any more…these night-time hours when my heart bleeds with missing you and I can feel the energy in my body straining towards where you used to be. My right side. Always on my right side because you had so little hearing left in your right ear. For 24 years you walked on my right side, you slept on my right side and now as the 9 month point of your gone-ness approaches, my body feels your absence just as strongly as the night you died and I looked at your sharply carved face, at the lips that I’d kissed, at your eyes that would no longer twinkle at me, or wink at me from across the room, and I traced my fingers over your brows as I’d so often done before busying myself with my almost final service of love and bathing you and dressing you in your own clothes because I was damned if you were going to be cremated in that hospital gown you so hated and I wasn’t going to let strangers, as kind as they were, take care of you.
It’s impossible to look at pictures and yet…I’m compelled to look at our thousands of pictures. You and I, always, always, sitting closely together, our hands entwined, your body around mine. We were two people who came into our marriage with scars from our first ones. Sometimes, early on, when we fought, you would just look at me and say “I’m not your ex” and I’d pull myself up short and realize that you were a man who did, and always would, honor and protect me and I could trust you with my life. Which I did. I told you from the beginning that you were my knight in shining armor and I never lost that belief, even as I scrubbed your back and helped you dress in your hospice time. You would gaze at your face in the mirror in that little bathroom, after making that short and yet for you in your illness, long trek to the bathroom because you were going to do what you could do as long as you could do it, and I know what you were thinking as you surveyed your face and body and the godawful changes being wrought on you from the fucking cancer. You were so strong, so loving, so confident and here was your body betraying you at every turn and here was the woman you loved and you felt your strengths and your will fading and your focus turning inwards and you knew your time to leave would be soon and what about this woman you loved who met your gaze in the mirror and all that love was in her eyes and all that pain because she knew time was short and what would this do to her?
I know what your thoughts were. I think about your thoughts at the end and my thoughts and our entwined hearts and the horrible pain of saying goodbye and letting go and my heart shatters over and over and I cry the tears I didn’t cry then because I didn’t want to make it harder for you to go. I just wanted the love to be there for you and I know you felt it and I hope that was your last conscious thought before you drifted away from me. That I loved you. That I had loved you and was still madly, passionately in love with you and you were always my strong arm, my lover, my protector, my knight, my sparring partner, my annoyance, my light, my magician, my everything. I saw what was in your eyes and I would turn you and put my hands on each side of your face and say to you that you were still my knight and still the most handsome man I’d ever met and your eyes would smile at me even when it took too much energy for your lips to smile. You knew. I knew. We had all we needed.
These night-time hours. Where I break open and bleed love.