I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
~Lake Isle of Innisfree, William Butler Yeats
I spent last week feeling like I was being hunted. Something wicked was coming my way, and I was jumpy, tense, waiting. It wasn’t until Monday that I realized that as of last Sunday, Dustin had been dead for three months.
Three. Months. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. I am still waiting for my phone to ring and to hear his voice again. I am still hoping that if I can just get back to the places he was, I can find him there, waiting for me. I am still waiting to wake up from this nightmare.
But I can’t. This nightmare is my new reality.
I am continually surprised by how physical, visceral, the process of grieving can be. The initial impact of his loss was just that: a physical blow to the gut, to my chest, that stole my breath and doubled me over. The next morning, I could feel my bones become dense, feel my joints shift out of place. Even now, I still feel heavy, and all my joints ache. My ribs feel bruised, my abdomen tender.
The anxiety has nested in my midsection, and feels as if someone has wound a ribbon around and through my organs. When I know I’m about to take another blow, feel his loss afresh, the ribbon is cinched tight, knotting and twisting. I wind up hunched over, and I have to remember to breathe, slowly, carefully, the way a person does after being badly hurt.
I deliberately tried to stop thinking about him for a while, but that is as futile as futile gets. He is too much a part of me, too much like me, for me to ever be more than half a breath from his memory. Even now, I turn to him like a plant to the sun. Every beat of my heart carries his name, every inch of my skin remembers his touch. He is with me always, every step, every moment. And his symbol is etched on my skin, just above my left ankle.
I was never a big fan of tattooing. Dustin had four, and asked me once why I didn’t have any. My answer? Because there was nothing in this world I could commit to that long, something I wouldn’t eventually get bored with. I have never been the committing kind. Until now.
I promised him forever, the rest of my life. That doesn’t change simply because he’s gone. So now my promise has been made indelible, with me forever. He would have loved it, and who knows? Maybe somewhere, he does.