There are two kinds of waiting. One with a definitive end in sight, no matter the time. One without. The latter is a kind of waiting without waiting. Which means to say, you don’t know if things will ever change and you don’t want to bet on it, but each time you try and close the window, your hands feel like they are broken.
Each time you left, I thought you were never coming back. Later, you would tell me that you also thought you were never coming back. Strange, how we were wrong every one of those times. It would take a few days. Maybe more. Once, it took nine months. We went back into the womb and re-emerged shaken, altered, and filled with confidence. The worst was over, we thought. This time we could not fail. We would not fail one another.
We failed one another again and again.
This time, you flatlined me. I have no way to reach you. Not word, nor voice can make its way to your side now. We are on opposite ends despite years of rote learning: we are on the same side, we are in the same boat, we are one.
But here we are. And we are two.
To be completely frank, it took me to pieces. It’s amusing how a theatrical statement like that could be tossed around like a salad. Like litter from a car window. Like old lovers. Tossed. It undid me. Again, I think of shoelaces. Of bodices. My feet do not remember the floor. It is a comatose state punctuated with moments of such alarming alertness that blinds the eye. And in those frightful moments, the brightness is unbearable. The clarity, the incisiveness, the shocking attention to detail. The last of your voice. The loud silence of impatience, waiting for a text back. Then the low frequency beep of nothing. Knowing, you’ve signed out for good.
There does not remain a single corner of my being that breathes without choking on what is known and now can never be unknown or forgotten. At a certain point, you have to take your own hand and lead yourself away from the scene of the crime. You have to walk away from the wreckage because the dead don’t stick around for seventeen days. She’s gone. It’s time to get in the car and drive home to the quiet, empty house. Your life is a quiet, empty house. You think you could learn to live with this. You know it’s not true. You always know when you’re lying. But.
Here we go. Making appointments. Making plans. Making excuses. Making notes. To pray. To sleep. To wake. To read. I don’t know what I’d do if I had free slot on Thursday afternoon between 2:30 and 3:30 pm. There is only so much fibbing you can do, always aware of the bile at the back of your throat threatening to come up. What are you doing?
I cancel plans. I put away uneaten meals. I get back into bed.
Perhaps nobody really deals with what happens. Maybe there is no actual working on yourself. Or moving on. Or honestly keeping yourself busy. All that strange soliloquising – what does it mean? These are our new shoes. We just walk around in our too-shiny new shoes; our tight, unfamiliar, biting new shoes; until they are not new anymore.
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Poignant and poetic, these words reaffirm where and how it hurts, always…