Haunted When The Minutes Drag

Sadness Sees You, charcoal and pastel on paper, Fumbling For Light, 2013

Sadness Sees You, charcoal and pastel on paper, Fumbling For Light, 2013

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Ye gods, these nights just won’t quit. I keep clinging to the idea that this won’t last, but damn, I’m not sure what’s going to be left of me by the time I come out the other side.

I hold together fairly well during the day, although I seem to be on the verge of tears a lot of the time. But once the sun goes down, I start to unravel.

I stare wide-eyed into the dark. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I listen to the sound of my own breathing and the ghosts inside my own head.

I hate being alone at night. I’d give almost anything to have someone’s arms to curl up in at night: for comfort, for support, for the sense of safety and security.

But that wouldn’t be fair, so I sleep alone.

I dream of him, every night for the last week. Last night it was as if he’d never died, and we were back to trying to figure out how to make our lives work together. I woke up feeling like my chest had cratered in, my head aching. I am sleeping only five to six hours a night.

Every night I struggle for air, every morning I wake feeling hungover, exhausted and in pain, both literal and figurative. My joints are aching again, my ribs tender and sore. Grief slides within the muscle, twisting and binding. It wraps the bones, invading the joints. Every night, I am being unmade.

My friend Sarah urged me to get it out on paper:

let it spill
charcoal
grab it
make a mess
get it out

So I did. I picked up some charcoal, scribbled with some white pastels, and the drawing above is the result. It is only the second time I’ve ever created art from an emotional place, and the first time I think I nailed it perfectly. The eye is open just a hair too wide: startled, staring, haunted. Disbelief and pain.

I am a little startled at the result, actually. But I feel a little better, and I’m hoping against hope I won’t dream tonight.

I still have 22 nights to go.

Bête Noire

I don’t remember how the road to sleep
became dangerous. Potholed. Treacherous
Afraid to sleep, afraid of what was waiting
He would be coming home drunk and any minute now
Terror
Best to stay awake
But that was then

Now the road to sleep is lined, like a dark parade
attended by the hosts of the dead
waving flags of doubts and could-have-beens
I should have gone to get you, why didn’t I?
Questions unanswered

Tension simmers
Hard to walk the parade when my knees
are drawn to my chest and I
I am relearning how to breathe
Did we have what I thought we had?
Fighting in the street

So much broken glass to get through
I’ll line my feet with pills until I don’t feel a thing
Numbness, the patron saint of the perpetually bleeding
We were going to eat lobster in Maine, we were going to be old together, you promised
I’ll get drunk on ashen wine

I’ll just try his number
there’s no one to call
But I need to know
there’s no one to explain
But I need to hold him
He is gone
I need to see him
Too late
But I need
Doesn’t matter
But I want
What you can’t have

I scrabble and I fight
but the pills do their business
I feel sleep sliding warm up the back of my neck
Ignoring my struggles in the dirt
Pulled under sighing, giving up
Oh love, oh my very dear