When someone you love dies, you don’t lose them all at once.
You lose them little by little.
Breath by breath.
Fragment by fragment.
You lose them hour by hour. Minute by minute. Month by month. Year by lengthy year.
It doesn’t happen all at once.
It doesn’t ever NOT happen.
Pieces of that person, that life, fall away as time goes by.
Sometimes you don’t notice it all at once,
and other times,
it hits you through the skull like an ice-pick,
chopping away at your heart.
When someone you love dies,
they don’t die in one moment.
They die all the time,
over and over again,
Lately, I have had these moments where I can literally feel a piece of my dead husband, floating further away from me. Sometimes it’s a memory that I can’t quite remember with the same detail I used to. Other times, it’s a tiny little thing about him that I suddenly miss so damn much, that I can barely breathe. And other times, it’s in the quiet of the night, where the sound of his voice or his snoring or breathing used to be. Whenever I am trying to recall a memory of me and my husband, and I find myself struggling to remember it fully, I start to panic. What if I keep losing memories? What if I no longer know what it felt like to be held by him? To be loved by him? What if I forget his very essence, or his laugh, or the way he shook his head at me all the time and looked at me like I was nuts. These types of things seem more vague to me now, after 6 years, and it scares me.
Marriage is like a secret. A beautiful secret between two people, filled with only things they know about. Things that nobody else in the universe would care about. Still, to this day, I have urges to call him up or to tell him something really specific that only he would care about. Still, I miss telling him things. Sharing things with him. What do you do when the other half of your secret dies? When the only other person who shared these private moments with you, is no longer here to reminisce with. Where do those thoughts and memories go? I can’t say to my husband: “Hey, remember that time that we ….”
I now hold all of our memories. I am the keepsaker of our life. I think thats partly why Im writing this book about him, about us. So that the memories dont die with me. So they will still be out there, documented, shared with the world. Love shared forward creates more love. I want to keep building my life, on the blocks of love.
This morning, our cat Sammy, who we adopted together back in 2010 from a rescue shelter in New Jersey, started getting really sick. He is about 17 years old, and has digestive issues, so this is normal for him. Once in awhile, he throws up a lot, or has horrible poop issues. Today was one of those days. He came into my room and looked up at me with those sad big eyes of his, rubbed his head against my arm, and cuddled up on my chest. I started petting him, and I started to sing this silly song that Don and I made up about him years ago, like I always do from time to time, when I suddenly couldn’t remember how it went. Sammy stared at me desperately, as if cheering me on: “Come on, mommy. You can remember! Sing it!” But I couldnt. The song memory had already begun to float away, and another little piece of my husband went missing forever.
The very thought of this made me cry. I kept petting Sammy, and crying. And telling him “Im sorry I cant remember the song. Im so sorry.” Then I felt like I had failed my cat. MY FUCKING CAT!!! I felt like I had failed my husband, because I couldn’t keep all the memories stored correctly in my heart. And then I started thinking about how Sammy is old, and how one day soon, he will start throwing up more and more, and then get sick, and then one day, on some ordinary stupid day, he will die. And then I will lose another huge piece of my dead husband. Our kitty that we adopted together. Our “furry child”, as Don jokingly called him. The thought of Sammy dying was impossible to think about. I couldnt breathe right. I got incredibly sad, as I felt more pieces of that life and my husband’s essence, disappearing into thin air.
And in that moment,
it felt like he had just died,
all over again.