Time steps on wounds and walks past victories, pausing for neither pain nor happiness. It is two months tonight since Lisa died. The world keeps spinning, day surrenders to night and night back to the day. The clock whirls forward, and the calendar continues to shred. In two weeks, it will have been a year since my father died. Where has the time gone? On the best of days, I am uncomfortably numb, and on the worst an open sore. When will it stop?
I talk to people, and they suggest I be happy for the time we had and not angry for the time stolen. I know these people are genuinely trying to help, but I cannot get past cancer’s thievery. I am grateful for the time we had, most of it. Some of it was horrible, some of it a nightmare of pain and suffering. But most of it was terrific and provided me with (I guess) a lifetime’s worth of good memories. Charles Baudelaire wrote, “I have more memories than if I were a thousand years old.” How fortunate for him. I have half a lifetime’s worth of memories that must last a thousand years.
My daughter wrote the piece below. It is insight into her pain and loss. May she find peace in writing, may we all find it.
I’m so tired of fighting. Fighting with myself and fighting with others. Fighting my situation. Stories have conflictual perspectives. Person vs self, person vs person, person vs nature, and person vs society. I feel like a part of all these conflicts right now. I’m angry and frustrated with myself all the time. I’m arguing with everyone- with Tristan, with Graydon, Cam- I disagree with classmates, God and I aren’t on speaking terms, to say the least. And I feel like most people have forgotten what I’m going through. I’m tired of it all.
The thing with grief is that it’s never ending. It’s like a homesickness for a place that no longer exists. I can no longer return to her hugs. To her voice calling me “punk”. To her smile. Her scent combined with “passion” perfume and Coast soap. I can never return to her laugh, her soft skin, her sparkling eyes. There will never be a time when I can go back. I am told I must go on, that I must live for her, and for me. But I don’t want to go on. I want to go back. I want to hug her again. I miss the feeling of her skin. I miss the feeling of her arms and her hands. I miss walking up to her, leaning my head on her shoulder, and saying, “Hi” or “I love you” just because.
I went home a weekend or so ago. I wanted to go home, see Dad, and spend some time with him, hopefully make him feel less lonely for a few days. But I honestly didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to sit on the couch, in the middle, because Dad sits on the left, and Mom on the right, her feet up on the edge of the coffee table, just watching TV. I didn’t want to walk into her bedroom and see her lonely glasses on the bedside table. I didn’t want to see the bathroom she fell in near the end when I didn’t catch her.
I didn’t want to think about how she tried to comfort me after it happened, telling me it wasn’t my fault she fell. Telling me it was ok, and not to cry. Telling me that this kind of thing was bound to happen sooner or later. She was bleeding from her hands where the textured wall had cut her. Bruised on her bum where she fell on the small metal trash can. I can’t think about that day without wanting to scream, sob, and rip my hair out. It was my fault. But it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t get past the walker blocking the door. But it was my fault, why hadn’t I moved it so I could be closer. It wasn’t my fault, and I know that. But it was, and always will be, and I know that too.
I didn’t want to go to my room. Where I’d go when we were fighting, where I would sit on my bed, and fume. I didn’t want to close the door and wait for her to open it so we could make up. I didn’t want to go in the kitchen or the garden. I want to leave this house as a relic in my mind- nothing to be touched again by any but her. But I also never want to leave because I will never again live somewhere I can picture hearing her footsteps. I don’t want to leave the room she died in; me, sitting on the couch, when Dad called our attention- “Guys,” and then silently as we gathered around. Then waiting, then waiting, then…
But I also never want to be in that room again.
I’m keeping it together in school. I can go on autopilot and joke with people and listen attentively to their petty problems, and laugh when I need to. I can focus on lectures, and participate in complex discussions in class. I can talk all day about Freud and Tocqueville and oil painting.
But then I go home and I’m alone. And I get thinking. And I can’t stand it. And wherever she is, I desperately want to be too. I’m lonely and my brain is moving too fast. And then it’s 1:30 in the morning or night, and it’s one of those terrible moments when your Mom is dead, your best friend gone, and everyone has forgotten how much everything hurts.
Everything is spinning and I’m juggling and juggling, but I’m starting to drop some things.