As I was driving yesterday to a church meeting, this question popped into my head: what happens to a relationship when it is all in the past? Okay, not a profound question, but when all that is left is memory, then what? Recently, I’ve been engaging in memory, reverie. Lost in my thoughts at times. About our family, what David and I did, how we moved through life together, how our family changed and grew, and what I did not and do not and will never know about. I did not engage in this sort of idleness when David was alive. Our life together was always moving forward. I would miss places and people. I might even day dream about the ‘what if’s’ but I did not review our times and adventures. Now, those are all that I have of David. A while back, I would realize this sort of thought, the idea that there was no present and future with David, and I would only feel great pain. It just plain hurt. Nothing else. I could not entertain any thought about the situation apart from pain. It was all I could do to withstand the wave of grief that would sweep over me. Yesterday, when I entertained this thought, I felt the wave but it was not numbing, pain was there, but also there was room for reflection and the question of how to hold this reverie. I know, I know, don’t live in it. But don’t reject it as out of hand and useless either. But what? Where does it fit into my life and what is it for? It is what I have of David and valuable for that alone. It may be for telling stories one day. I need keep a balance, however. Living in the present is necessary. Almost medically necessary -- ach! I don’t have the words. Necessary to keep my sanity, not to get lost, not to tune out of the world around me.
How I walked around in a daze last year. In the Mysaki movie, “Spirited Away”, the young heroine becomes transparent when she finds herself visiting the spirit world. Was I not transparent last year? Was I even close to half of myself? I was as whole as I could possibly be.
I am changing. I can feel it now. I have felt it before and I will probably repeat this over and over in the next year. The gaping hole in the middle of my life is closing itself. The only experience I can compare this to is pregnancy, although the comparison does not hold up very well. But I remember a short but shocking feeling of grief when the child that was inside of me, that I took care of and carried around every minute of my existence, that I felt growing and changing, that I had experiences with, albeit experiences like moving, turning over, and kicking the air out of my one night when I sang a high C. But experiences all the same. And then one day, in an instant, she was no longer there. She was somewhere else. This was like losing David and our life, but it was not immediately replaced by a needy baby, and so the loss is so much more attended to, and the grief so deep.
Yesterday and today, I felt the change. A new integration. A getting used to the single of this life I have. I am still lonely. I crave good adult conversation. I long for a soul mate and a good roommate, but I am okay. I am becoming more responsible. It is an interesting thing about a partnership. Long time partners make up for the weaknesses of their mates. David took care of the mornings as I wrote about a few days ago. He never touched a plant, hung a picture, washed linens, bought a candle, put away books, and a dozen other things that I did. And he did so many things that I have come smack up against during this last year. Very silly little things. He was always the one who changed kitchen sponges. Why? Who knows? During this last year, my cleaning lady has changed my sponges a few times. I do buy new ones but then use the old ones until they are in shreds. And I don't have to wait that long. Last week, I changed my sponge. The minutia of this is astounding, but it is all these very small things. Everything. Little tasks to pick up and do because no one else will.
I think Joan Didion said that what amazed her after a year of grieving was that her husband didn't come back. There was still some part of her waiting for the door to open, for the familiar creek on the stairs. All that I am writing about is a pale echo of her words. I have been still waiting and ya' know what? He didn't come back. And I change the sponge now.