It’s been a year and I still cannot answer that question. I asked it many times. Every time I heard about someone in my position- losing someone they loved.
How, I wondered, how do you go to bed in the same bed and wake up in a room that is thick with their dreams, open the closet and see their clothes, their dirty socks on the floor, their hair on your pillow…. How do you go to bed and wake up without them?
The night before he died we slept peacefully in bed together. He was quiet. No vomiting. When I woke up it was dawn and he was sitting up at the edge of the bed. It was hard for him to walk, so we put him in a wheelchair and took him around the house. A tour. He was conversing gently now and then. Not to us, but to them…the others he could see. The nurse came and while he was sitting, looking out at the garden and the gentle rain, she told me that he was going.
It was time.
After she left we settled him on the sofa and I went into the kitchen and tried to make some toast. A thin arrow of pain shot through my heart and I lost all breath. A friend helped me to the floor and I sat in a L shape, like a doll. Looked at my shaking knees. In my head all I could see was a cheesy Hallmark image of a cupid piercing a heart with an arrow. The arrow had no tip or tail- just a long, thin arrow straight through from front to back. That question I can answer. What is it like when your heart breaks?
The day passed. People, tea, laughter, light rain. Friends, food. In the afternoon a friend, Treva, had organized a treatment- a blessing, a letting go. I felt him relax in my arms. Almost. You see, he didn’t want to go. He wanted to live. And sometimes, when I say that, people ask, ‘Well, doesn’t everybody?’ and the answer is “No.” Some people are ready, they want it, embrace it. But he wanted us. Me. The kids, the desert, more food, more travel, more friends, more years to do everything in his head- which was a rabbit warren of ideas. Maybe less work…maybe more...
That evening, surrounded by friends, the firelight and candles, he died in my arms. Curled up on the sofa together, my hand on his face, the other on his heart. It was the most beautiful moment in my life. Such searing love and pain combined. When I looked up the room was weeping, the skies were weeping but my eyes were dry.
When he had asked me to marry him - in a pizza parlour in Dublin - he didn’t say “Will you marry me?” He told me he never wanted to spend a day alive without me. He wanted me by his side till the day he died. I interpreted that as a proposal and accepted.
I accepted. And we were together, just like planned.
But still, the question I cannot answer is how do you go to bed that night? Without them?
After he died we moved his body to the bedroom. Some comedy ensued. In my widow grief moment I thought we could lay him out on the dining room table. Way too Irish wake for my friends who were helping me carry him. Instead we lay him in bed and covered him. I sat by his body. After the fire department, and the police, the coroner. They all gave a date and time of death, so in the end his death straddled Pi…some infinite number around 3.14. I followed him to the street and into the coroner’s van. Good bye good bye good bye on the red street slick with rain.
And then? I went to bed. JB stayed, slept curled up on the little sofa because Robert the dog wanted to lie stretched across the sofa where his master had passed. Arum slept in our bed, in the pool of warmth where William had lain. Roibhilin, brave little soul, slept in his own bed with his tears. And me? I don’t remember.
When someone you love dies, you will only ever see them again as a memory, a dream. Perhaps a visitation. A sign. But the line of reality is broken. And, because we were together for nearly 25 years- the last half of my life now also seems like a dream. And the last year? I don’t know. I did something. Moved forward. Did something else. Slept. Ate. Had a love affair with Netflix…. got here.
What I am now learning to accept, is that if that was his story, if that was his arc…how lucky I was to have spent it with him. This glorious, irascible, maddening, brilliant, noisy, loving creature that graced us with his presence on earth and gave me undying love. I carry him in front of my heart like a fragile egg.
Asvadz Hokin Lousavore my angel. I love you back.
I have no problem writing. It's stopping I find hard. And editing? Ouf! Again and again with the pages until I bore myself with my own words. So... maybe a blog where I just drink my coffee and go howzat then?