“You are the anchor that holds me to the ground.”
~Dustin to me, November 2011
“I need you like I need air to breathe.”
~ Me to Dustin, April 2012
I miss him the way a plant misses the sun; the way stars miss the morning sky. Together, we could fly. Apart, I am a bird with only one wing. I was his North Star, he was my lodestone. But….
A part of me is relieved that Dustin has gone.
Don’t get me wrong; I would give any body part you cared to name, give up years of my life – anything – to have him back. I also recognize that desire is among the most selfish I’ve ever had.
Dustin was suffering, and not in a temporary, transient sort of way. He was being torn apart, inside and out, by the mistakes he’d made, his addictions, so many wrong turns. A good argument could be made that I was the last thing keeping him here, and that at the end, even I wasn’t enough.
The life we were destined to have together was not only not going to be easy, it was going to be hell on earth for him. He was facing three major challenges: learning how to live a straight, law-abiding life for the first time ever, dealing with a severe mental illness, and kicking one of the most insidious addictions known to man.
That was a steep, steep mountain to climb. I knew what I was signing up for, had pledged to be right beside him the whole way. I knew there would be setbacks, backsliding. It was going to be so much work, and so grueling, for us both. He had doubts whether he could do it at all.
His manic phases often made him paranoid; he would be awake for days, then crash for several more. He had trouble focusing, of being totally present even during the time he spent with me. He was at war with his own mind, all the time.
If that weren’t bad enough, the withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl and dilaudid would nearly drive him out of what was left of his mind. Chills, sweating, nausea, stomach cramps, shivering, weakness, joint and back pain, rapid heartbeat…the agony in his voice could flay muscle from bone. His heart, mind, and body were already wracked by years of drug abuse and hard living; I was terrified he wouldn’t be able to survive the process as it was, and in the end, his heart gave out.
So if I had somehow been granted the power to roll back time, to undo what had been done, would I do it?
How could I do that? How could I put him through that deliberately, for no other reason than I don’t want to have to learn to live without him? How could I snatch away from him everything he had ever wanted? Peace, a sense of security and safety, of belonging, of eternal love? Freedom from pain and suffering, a release? What kind of monster would that make me, to sentence him to what was waiting for him here?
This is part of the price I pay for being the one strong enough to be left behind: I had to be willing to be left. To let him go. To put his needs, even at the end, above my own.
Of course, the impossibility of negotiating his return makes all of this a moot point, but I can’t help but believe that somewhere, somehow, it counts.
I love you. I’d do anything for you. Even let you go.
Because I can bear it, I can carry it. Because I was the only one of us who could.
Be at peace, dear heart. You are with me always.