As I worked with my therapists after Boris died, especially while working through my trauma of finding him and the aftermath of his death, something that came up for me a lot was about his body. I remember his body the night he died and it comes up for me quite often, even still today, though I have less intrusive thoughts about it. I remember the way his body felt when I found him and tried to wake him up. I remember the way his lips felt when I tried to give him mouth to mouth. I remember the weight of his body on the pavement when I helped the police officer lay him down. And, I remember the phone call when someone called about donating some of his body tissue and how horrible that was to talk about just hours after his death. His body was lifeless. And then his body was cut open. And then his body was turned to ash. His body that I’d known for 14 years, the one I embraced, the one I hugged, the one I knew like the back of my hand…it was gone.
When Boris was laying beside me or we were just hanging out, sometimes I would trace my fingers over his face or his hands to try to memorize them. To other people, that might sound weird. I mean, Boris thought it was kind of weird sometimes too. But, for some reason, I felt like I needed to make note of it in my brain. Tracing his eyes and earlobes as I closed my eyes and thought something about this is important. I am glad I did that. I am glad I made note. I remember his strong, piano-playing hands and his dark eyes. I can still see the funny way he walked–kind of up on his toes. And I remember the scars on his wrist from an angry patient (a cat) at the vet’s office where he worked. I remember the softness of his skin and the way his lips felt. This aspect of grief and missing him are hard. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it to people…I feel more comfortable saying I miss his laugh, his friendship, and his witty jokes. But, saying I miss his body feels so much more personal. But, I do. I miss it so much.
I am afraid I will forget things about his physical body. I wish I’d taken more photos and videos of him…what I have now will never seem like enough. Partner loss is so hard because you lose that physical touch and it is unique to you and that person. You have that warmth, that physical connection and then one day it is gone. And now mixed up with the happy memories of Boris’s body are my memories of his body the night he died.