“I don’t want to hear you tell me everything is wonderful now”
I have heard that a woman’s heart breaks deeper, but a man’s heart breaks longer. I don’t know if that is really true, and not chauvinistic to assume it to be true. I’ve had my heart broken before but only once has it been truely riven and sheared and spilled out. Only once has it been irretrievably broken, because there is no undoing death. When someone dies they take away all opportunity to ever make it right again, no matter how badly you want to.
But Life in general has been doing the dust to dust thing for so long it has no evolutionary use for extended grief. Life rolls on. You don’t get to nurse your grief for too long before you have to get up, get moving, and go look for food. The brain dulls, the memory fades, emotions muddle. Before long you are back in the stream of Life, its current carrying your farther and farther away from that irreparable moment.
But Life has a cruel secret; it lets you carry your grief intact. You don’t always remember it, but when you do pull it out, it is as fresh and raw and biting as the day it first came to live with you. Sometimes it spills out unexpectedly when you hear a song, or something triggers a memory. Then, wow. It is like you are there again at the moment of pain and sorrow.
If you are good you can throw the drape over your grief quickly and hide it again. But it is only hidden, not gone. It dwells in the recesses of the heart, the heavy, aching parts, the wounds that never heal or harden. It is the ironic emptiness of loss that feels so heavy.
I say I will never forget Her: the unrecoverable Her. Yet I forget Her everyday, and more and more as Life rolls on. But if I stop and think for just a moment, she is there, in the recesses. That is where she dwells now, waiting for a paltry 15 or 20 minutes once a year to be remembered. Maybe grief rides with us so long to keep us from being so stingy and composed with our rememberances. Maybe sadness expands in our minds and hearts to emphasize that our loss is something that can never be regained. There are no boundries for never, there is no retention to grief.
Last week I lit a candle to remember the passing from this world of my friend, my ward, my lover. I allowed 20 minutes in my day, in my year, to think on her and how her life touched mine. 20 minutes. I should be ashamed. I am ashamed. I’m ashamed to have a wonderful life now with a woman I love, to live in health and prosperity and happiness. I am ashamed to have moved on, to have not been to her grave in years. Every moment I have of happiness feels like a moment stolen from remembering her and regretting her loss.
But what else can I do? Why do I still carry this thorny burden of grief, this remorse for a life cut short? Love? I have loved others since her, some even deeper and more abiding. Guilt? I can’t offer redress to a tombstone, or consolation to a patch of ground. Tribute? I don’t believe she looks down on me, or thinks of me; she is beyond such corporeal things now. Perhaps Life has stowed this sadness in within my heart to make me appreciate what I have and where I am today. I wish I could. Or, maybe I don’t wish I could. Maybe I am content and satisfied in the land of the “if only’s”.
Even though I only “dedicated” 1/3rd of an hour to my departed friend, she has filled my mind this week. When I lost her I lost everything that was her; the smell of her hair and skin; the feel of her body and the back of her hand; the sight of her crooked smile and the little physical nuances of movement and speech that were her’s alone; the sound of her voice and her breathing beside me at night; the sense that she was becoming whole again. What I was left with were the ghosts of memories and the sadness that stays with me. In these swells of grief I know I have not forgotten her completely. I haven’t moved on, I’ve just moved along. But she deserves more than this temple of sadness, she deserves more than this legacy of heartbreak.
I’d like to change the energy around this. I’d like to feel differently. Maybe one day I will. But men’s hearts are hard things. They are not easily broken, and they stay broken for a long, long time.