We put each other through some hellish times in our 11 years together (but really, what couple hasn’t?) and yet despite the hurt and flaws and mistakes, I always felt at the heart of us was something special, something a lot of people never get to experience. We just fit together. We understood each other and craved each other. I only ever wanted to be near him. I only ever wanted his attention and love. I know he felt the same way about me and in one of the journals he kept for me he wrote about it.
“You are my best friend. You’re more than a best friend. You know me inside and out better than anyone I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t even know if I can describe what you are to me. My lover, my friend, my confidant. My everything. I feel like no matter how close I am to you it’s not close enough.”
I read those words and it’s hard to believe that he was taken from me. I need more time to be near him and love him and make up for past regrets. I just need more time. I struggle to breathe without him some days. It’s as if just existing takes every ounce of strength in me. I had this dream last night that he came back, briefly, and I had a chance to tell him how desperately I missed him. I told him that I keep his photo near my bed and I talk to him every night before I sleep and every morning when I wake. I asked him to forgive me for every unkind thing I ever said, for any time I lacked compassion, for any cruel thing I’ve ever done or failed to do for him. I had to talk fast because I didn’t know how much time we had. I don’t really know that he responded in my dream. And then I woke up and I steeled myself for another day. I heard a Nora Jones song on the radio today and she talked about feeling as empty as a drum. I feel that way these days, so empty. So devoid of happiness. I am trying to get through these difficult days so I can reach better ones ahead. I know he would want me to, and in fact even wrote once about how he hoped I would move on and be happy if something ever happened to him. It will take time and tenacity but though I might fall and fail time after time I’ll get it right one of these days. And even as I heal, I will always love him. Into eternity.
“And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.” – Emily Bronte
I hear crickets in the grass and my dog snoozes on my lap. It’s a quiet night, nearing midnight, and I sit here alone and think. Today, four weeks ago, I was glued to a hospital monitor watching my husband’s inter-cranial pressure climbing to dangerous levels. I held his hand and placed cool cloths on his forehead because it was the only thing I could do. His pain broke my heart. And, although I was afraid, I couldn’t fathom a time when he would cease to be in this world with me.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said to me. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
It was the last thing he told me.
Since then I’ve had some bad days, some terrible days and a few days where I felt some semblance of hope that life might still be worth living. I’ve had wonderful family and friends surround and support me. I’m slowly, slowly, picking myself back up and working my way towards a new life. Sometimes it’s a two steps forward, one step back process but I keep working at it because I want to be the best version of myself. I want to make Brian proud.
I have a Smirnoff screwdriver at my elbow and I’m attempting to do yoga. It might not be the most logical combination but my world has been turned upside down so I don’t even try to make sense. When this year began I sat down and wrote out my typical list of resolutions that included some home renovation projects, running goals, self-improvement stuff and all the other things I aspire to each year. Since then I’ve thrown out that whole list and narrowed it down to one:
2017 is all about survival. Last year I lived our greatest love story with my husband and this year I lived a tragedy. When January first rolled around I never imagined that a few short months later I would watch the love of my life take his final breaths and see his strong heart beating for the last time. It’s taken me three weeks to fully believe he is no longer in this world with me and that no amount of longing, wishing, hoping or dreaming will make him come back to me. I’ve wanted to scream his name over and over until I’m empty, but I only remain full. Full of an ocean of grief and loss and loneliness. Full of the greatest sorrow I’ve ever known. I still breathe even though he no longer does. It’s a travesty. When the surgeon came out to the waiting room and explained that my husband was on a ventilator, just a shell holding a beating heart, I felt as if I were dying with him. I remember placing my palm on his chest and feeling the steady rhythm of his heart but knowing that he was gone.
Three weeks later and I sit on my living room floor listening to The Greatest by Sia and drinking alone. I imagined my love and I would grow old together and have years of adventures ahead of us, not an abbreviated love story that ended at the best part. I had to plan my darling’s funeral and see my beautiful husband laid out in a casket, his strong hands still and lifeless. Those hands held me so gently and with such love, how could they be so cold now? None of this makes any sense. I no longer plan and dream for the future. I just live each day as it comes. I get up and I keep going and complete necessary tasks and do the things that need to be done. I quit my job and cleaned out my house. It took two weeks to work up the nerve to move back into our home and even now it feels so empty without my love here. I wish I had just one more chance to tell him how much I love him and how much he meant to me. I’m not sure he knew how much I needed him. I’m not sure I knew how much I needed him.
When we met 11 years ago I didn’t foresee the heartache ahead, but I’ve come to believe that we were meant to be together. We were meant to love and grow and learn together. I stayed by his side through all our struggles and he remained beside mine. We became the greatest friends and lovers and I’m grateful I was given a gift that some live their whole life and never receive. Maybe we loved each other too much for this world. Though I remain behind I long for him and hope for a day when we are together again. In the mean time I’ll have to learn to live again. One day at a time.