Don Occam would say time rubs the flaws away from your memory, like wind and rain on old stone, so only a crystalline, smooth, perfect image remains of your lost love. And he would be right. The old bastard might have become the embodiment of rage against the universe, but after 3600 years of mourning, unable to rejoin the only woman he ever gave his heart and soul to, I can’t blame him. It would do that to anyone, I think.
I long for the naivety of thinking full-time caregiver was draining, hard, or even a burden borne with love. The clarity brought on by loss makes me now see those moments as sweet, warm, loving, and joyous even. If the clockworks of the universe could be hacked and turned backward, breaking for even a moment the waves of grief and agony crashing across me each moment, I would embrace those caregiving moments with new passion. I’d never lament the loss of sleep or the endless chores of tending to my sweet girl’s most private of needs or wants.
Don’t get me wrong; those things were done with love and adoration even then, so hungry was I to give her comfort and any measure of joy she could grasp. But through the lens of loss, I now see those moments were just as meaningful, just as touching, tender and loving as any we shared just falling to sleep in each other’s arms when we first came together.
I would give any amount of the life I have left, any number of hours or days, up to and including all of them, to rest once again with her head nestled between my chin and chest, her hand on my heart, her warmth radiating down my body.
Give me our worst day here on this side of the veil, give it to me magnified to twice its anguish or challenge, ten times, and I would happily, joyfully embrace it as my own personal heaven… just to have her melt into me and sleep against my skin once more.
Here is the challenge, the agony of finding soul deep love, rare as that is in this world; when one leaves to forge a path into the next world, becoming the guide for both of you, the one left behind is destroyed, body, mind, and soul. For that is how we lived, joined in body, mind, and soul. There is no more S.L. Shelton. S.L. left this world when his Gretel did… Diane Lorraine Shelton, muse, partner, love, the other half of a life painstakingly created from the remnants of two lives, broken, battered souls; through conscious will of heart, constructed over almost 20 years into a single life with the accumulated pieces of two separate lives. With one gone, there remain not enough pieces to make either whole again, because those two individuals don’t exist anymore.
I’m not long for this world. Don’t worry, I have no designs on some Shakespearean tragedy of lost love and suicide. But one can only live so long with half a heart, half a soul, and fading will. There’s a reason grief counselors warn of a 30 to 90% chance of a partner following within six months of the death of a spouse, depending on a number of variables.
I don’t have to guess what those variables are. Judging solely by the constant, sometimes debilitating pain in my chest, that place where half my heart vanished on the night of October 17th, I know what causes it.
And I’m not worried.
She went ahead of me.
She led the way as she has from the moment we laid eyes on each other. I’m not afraid of death because she went ahead of me. She bore that burden, unwillingly, kicking, screaming, and fighting every step of the way. She wasn’t going to let cancer beat her. Her death surprised many in our lives simply becuase she refused to acknowledge the extent of her illness to anyone, sometimes even herself. She lived more than a year longer than anyone with her rare form of cancer ever had. That’s what happens when rare meets rare.
She bore that burden, and I bear the pain. But that’s okay; we’ve always split the weight of a hard life and carried what the other could not, happily adding the weight to our shoulders so the other could feel lighter.
66 days. If anyone ever asks how much time is needed to ease the pain of grieving your forever love, it’s not 66 days. I suspect there are no number of days until that last one. The joyful reunion.
Bless you all, find joy and comfort in your love. If you haven’t found it, do so, and make up for lost time. the heart you fill will be your own when you fill the heart of the one you love.