Are the nights without you harder than the daylight hours and the crush of remembrances? How does one measure the rhythms of the heart? Is conscious awareness more difficult than sleep-induced memories?
It’s been 17 months since you suffocated to death. 17 months since the flames of cancer extinguished my life with you. 17 months since I lay down to sleep without you for the rest of my life.
In the months after your death, I struggled mightily with the trauma of your time in hospice. I thought I’d created beautiful for you only to be told of the agony I’d brought to you. In those months my heart fought desperately to know what my brain knew and now my brain battles my heart in the same way and in the darkness of the night thoughts seep in and wake me with pounding pulses.
The art of dying is a canvas on which is splattered the history of complicated and unresolved relationships and issues and so it was when you lay on that bed in a southern California hospice. It isn’t about what I did or didn’t do; what creeps into my heart in the darkest hours of the night are agonies that have no answer. My brain knows that thoughts of your own dying, medications, your body turning on itself as mini strokes and tumors devoured you-all these things caused flights of fancy and forgetfulness and you might have wondered where I was or had doubts about what was going on around you. My anguish is that I didn’t know of your doubts and the one who knew said nothing to me, and you were left in confusion. You were stung with a past that wasn’t yours and it followed you into your last breath.
Days are impossible for me as I navigate my way through grief. Nights are unbearable as these memories hum in my unconscious and wake me reaching for you. Your flag sits at the head of my bed and my fingers find it and I remember the warmth of your presence and my heart aches again. I quickly monitor my thoughts because there is no purpose in painful memories. My brain knows what I created for you. My heart knows that you knew how passionately I loved you. Your agony is over and you are at peace. But as quickly as I insist on sleep again, these thoughts invade and the process begins again.
That you suffered needlessly sears me to my core. It all played out as needed. I get that. And I’ve come to terms with so much of it. But in the darkness, as I sleep, my mind wanders and my heart weeps and it all multiplies into racing pulse and accelerated heartbeat and adrenalin rushes into my blood and another night passes.
You are missing from me.