I Hate This Life
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time But from its loss. – Edward Young, Night Thoughts. Night I, l. 55, 1742.
I hate this life. In fact, it is “life” only in name. I continue to inhale and exhale and my heart continues to beat, but I really only exist. The day begins with my alarm at 4 am. I open my eyes to the empty space in bed where Lisa used to sleep. I get ready for work and feed Delbow, whose pancreatitis and pneumonia are being treated but for whom I can do nothing. I leave for work at 5 am and listen to a book on the way. At work, I am either busy or try to stay busy until 3 pm when I drive home listening to the same book. I open the door and greet Delbow, giving him a cookie. I change and sit in the living room. It is 4:30. And time stops.
I prepare everything for the next morning. I ready Delbow’s medications. I feed him. I feed myself. It is all mechanical, devoid of interest. The house is no longer a home. It sits unused. The gardens are overgrown and weedy. All of Lisa’s belongings still reside where she left them. Her glasses. Her purse. Her walker stands folded in the laundry room. I watch television because it passes the time. It too is lifeless. Hours of “How It’s Made” on the Science channel. After an interminable amount of time, I look up. It is 7:30. Is it too early to go to bed? To escape this mental prison? I go to bed deciding to read a book. My mind is incapable of concentrating these days and I gloss over a page of text before realizing I have absorbed nothing of the story. I put the book down. I cannot sleep yet. I turn the television back on. There is a Modern Family repeat on. I’ve seen it twelve times before. I anticipate the lines of the show, wishing I could sleep. Finally, after a marathon of Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory reruns, I turn off the television and shut off the light. My mind races and thinks of all things Lisa. I cry. At some point, I fall asleep.
Oh, I know what Lisa would say. First, she would give me a Cher to Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck slap and tell me to snap out of it.Then she would tell me that I need to live because I can and she cannot. She would tell me that I have to stay healthy, physically and mentally, for the kids. That they are relying on me and taking coping cues from me. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want a shoulder upon which to cry. I want Lisa. Everything will get easier with time, they say. Time. I have time! I have too much time and not enough answers. I understand all of these things in my head, but my heart is broken and empty, grieving for what it cannot have.
At 3 am the phone rings. It is Samantha. She has had a bad dream about Lisa and wants to talk it out. I am grateful for her call. She relates the details of the dream and I cry too. How can I not? It is heartbreaking. I tell her I hate this life and she says she understands. We talk about her art and try to change the subject. Eventually, she says she feels better and apologizes for calling. I tell her I’m glad she called and she says she can go back to sleep. I say I love you, she says she loves me, and she hangs up. It is 3:40. I lay there replaying the conversation until the alarm goes off at 4 when I look over at the empty space where Lisa used to sleep. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.