Epilogue

holding hands

In another life did I do something right?
For you to finally find me and carry me home
You give me a world, where my heart is filled
There’s no room for sadness, for anything else

….

When I felt so lost, so alone and wandering
Through my deepest sorrow you reached though the dark
I look for your light, I try not to worry
‘Cause I know you’ll always carry me home

~”What If I” by Kirsty Thirsk

Just when I had given up hope of finding it, happiness dropped out of the sky, got comfortable, and announced an intention to stay as long as I wanted it to.

I spent most of the last year and a few months so far gone in the depths of grief that I never looked beyond the next day. I went to school, to work, made art, took care of myself and my cats. That was it. I dabbled in dating but my hope, faint to begin with, was quickly waning. I didn’t want to deal with the whole mess: getting dressed up, makeup and lipstick, putting myself out there for judgement, looked over like merchandise on a shelf. I wanted what I had hoped to find with Dustin: an unconditionally loving equal partner. Someone I could understand and relate to, someone who would do the same with me.

Failed date after mediocre date. Already being lied to and taken advantage of again. I was so over the entire process. I didn’t want this game playing bullshit. I was becoming convinced trust and honesty and mutual respect were too much to ask for. When I thought of my future, I thought of a comfortable sunny apartment with studio space and cats, and that was it. Love was going to be for other people. I’d had my shot, and I’d lost it.

To be honest, a part of me was frightened. Happiness and love aren’t free, and the price tag of losing them was staggering. I was not going to risk that level of pain and tearing grief for just anyone.

So I set up one last date. I’d actually scheduled three dates for one weekend; figured I’d wipe out the dangling possibilities so I could get back to making art for my semester break. The second I cancelled as the suitor proved to be an inconsiderate jackass before we’d even met, the third cancelled for health reasons.

It wouldn’t have mattered, because the first was destined to be the last.

We had talked every night for the four days leading up to this date. I already knew he was intelligent, with sweetness in his voice. I wasn’t prepared for the kindness of his brown eyes, the empathy of his soul. I wasn’t prepared for someone like him at all.

Lunch date became a walk in the park, became drinks in a cafe, became dinner, became hours of conversation in the parking lot. Conversation just flowed between us as we became aware exactly how much we had in common.

He sometimes says talking to me is like talking to himself in a mirror.

As the date rolled on, I became aware of a powerful physical attraction, one that ate at my self control and completely wiped out my sense of propriety, such as it was. What kept my hands to myself in fist-knotting tests of my self control was his stated wish to take things slowly, saying he didn’t kiss on the first date because it’s presumptuous. I didn’t want to kiss him on our first date because I knew as soon as our lips met, it would be all over and we’d wake up in a hotel the next morning. I didn’t leave our first date as much as I fled, trying desperately not to make a fool of myself in a restaurant parking lot.

When his sister asked how our date went, he said, “This one could be trouble.”

Oh, honey, he had no idea.

Saturday dates became weekends spent together, wrapping ourselves around each other, taking long walks and short hikes, sitting together watching the stars wheel overhead, telling stories of constellations and history.

Weeks have become months, hours spent on the phone every night as we’re separated by time and distance and obligations. We have yet to run out of things to talk about. I know the contours of his soul as I do my own, as he has come to know mine.

I am more in love than I ever have been before, and given my history, that’s saying something.

This is it. We have found our home.

Walking Wounded

Ghost-like Nebula Revealed by Hubble

Here we are
You’ve moved on
In my heart I know you’re not gone
Gotta find ways to shed this old skin

Where were you, were you in that room?
Were you watching as I wept for you?
Curled up next to your body so still

Wanna let go, don’t wanna lose
Wanna let go, don’t wanna lose
Wanna let go, but I don’t wanna lose
Anymore

~”Let Go” by Hank Dogs

I fake it so well, most of the time. So well, in fact, I occasionally fool myself.

Today was one of the days I didn’t do so well. I was fine while laughing and chatting with others, but a poem written by a friend sent me on a full-body flashback, and I was living it again:

The way your breath stirred the dark…hands stroking, voice holding me up, tethering me to the earth, losing even that last tenuous connection as the world exploded in my head, in my heart, in my soul…

And that was the end of any illusion of calm, any semblance of peace. Need and longing and searing pain traced the length of every nerve as his voice filled my mind…

“We’re going to be old people together, I promise…”

“I don’t know how anyone could mistreat you, Angie, I really don’t…”

“Oh, I love you, I do, never like this, never anyone like you…”

“I didn’t know, oh, didn’t know I could feel this way without being high…”

Oh, gods. In the back of my mind, thudding up from the base of my skull, come the pounding strains of Placebo’s cover of “Running Up That Hill,” burning with all the frozen horror of an empty future; vacant-hearted, hollow-eyed, bargaining with gods who aren’t listening:

Tell me we both matter, don’t we?
You, you and me
You and me won’t be unhappy

And if I only could, I’d make deal with God
And get him to swap our places…

This pain is bottomless.

I pulled myself together for a while. Laughed, chatted, talked. For a while. Then one by one the voices stilled until the only one left was the one in my head. Echoing.

I made dinner. Ate it, standing at the counter. Didn’t taste it.

I could pick up the phone. I could call someone. Save me from myself, from my memories…

But I won’t. Sometimes I just have to be sad. The only way over it is through it, after all. Which is damn cold comfort when I’m looking at a long day tomorrow and a cold bed tonight.

Gold and silver line my heart
But burned into my brain are these stolen images
Stolen images, baby, stolen images
Can you picture it, babe, the life we could have lived?

~”Without You” by Lana Del Rey

I can. All the time. I just can’t picture the life that doesn’t include him. So I go from day to day. I don’t really plan ahead. I’ve made some long range plans for my future as far as education and career goes, but that’s almost it. I start to picture the new cozy apartment, the furniture just so, this color, that fabric. And then, my heart turns to the one who should be there to share it and he vanishes like smoke, sad crooked smile hanging in the air.

Are you proud of me? Are you watching me weep for you? Can you see how I struggle, see what I create in your name, in your honor? Are you finally at peace? Are you waiting for me? Tell me! Something, anything, dammit! Let me know you’re still with me, that you haven’t left me so alone…

It roils and bursts; it’s viscous and thick, this grief. It clings to the soul, coating the bones, freezing the heart into place, leaving it to thump and twist in its new prison of darkness and cooling stone.

:it’snotfairit’snotfairit’snotfairit’snotfair:

And it isn’t. So what? What does that change? A temper tantrum over the unfairness of it all doesn’t bring him back to me. Nothing will bring him back to me. I am serving a life sentence, after all; I knew how this was going to go the moment I knew he was gone. When something blows a hole through a life, it tends to stay open.

I miss talking to him. Miss the sound of his voice, his insights, his warped sense of humor, his open and unabashed expression of feeling, of desire and hope and love. I miss his companionship, the way we fit together.

I’m afraid. Afraid no one will see me the way he did. That no one else will love me the way he did, feel so lucky to even have known me. That no one else will feel that thrill of want and desire that he did for me. The same things I felt for him.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to feel those things for someone else. I just turned 36 and have no desire to date. Sometimes I feel as if my best years have already gotten away from me, that by the time I get my life together and I have the financial security to be equal in a relationship, I’ll be into my 40s and most of my life will be behind me. Sometimes I feel like he was my last shot at lifelong love and true connection.

I know that’s mostly bullshit, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about it.

Seems like some days, not much of anything changes the way I feel.┬áSome days, it seems like this is just the way it’s going to be.

Maybe tomorrow won’t be one of those days.

Spilled Bones

The Old Astronomer To His Pupil, by Sarah Williams

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
The Old Astronomer To His Pupil, by Sarah Williams

Spilled Bones

Spill the bones across the table
Read a future there
Trace the pattern of a soul
Writ large on every bone
Of life, of love, of spirit and hope

Tumble the bones end over end
Sparking dreams and starting fires
Tell me the tale I haven’t heard before
The happily ever after for the one left behind
Find what’s left of me there

When they stop their restless fall
Maybe they’ll share their peace
Spin stillness in their wake
Maybe the gods will listen
And grant clear eyes to a full heart

Every slivered bone
Lined with loss, curved by grief
Startled as stars
Curling into their cores
Exploding, scattering

Bracketing beginning and end
From stars whence we came
To stars we shall return
Lighting dark and lonely ways
In the night sky you wait for me