Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Pain comes crashing in. Time crawls past. I think, I've been sitting here for hours; in fact, I've been sitting here ten minutes.

Sleeplessness: check.
Diminished mental capacity: check.
Waves of grief: check.

If I get through the whole list, will it end?

How long is this list anyway? And where the hell did I put it?

This morning I was struggling to recall what I'd done with his security cards. It turned out I'd put them in the pocket of the pants he was wearing. Why the hell did I do that? And when? The first day? The second? How many days has it been, again? The pants themselves are still in the plastic bag they handed me at the hospital. As are his shoes, socks, underwear, shirt. His belt. I guess the nursing staff washed the vomit off the pants before they gave them to me; I didn't notice that until today. Thank you, nursing staff.

I could never understand how people could bear burial rituals: to wash the body, lay him out, all that--it gave me the creeps. I understand now.

He was in such pain. I could do nothing, so I held his hand. I wanted to make it stop hurting. It felt like precisely the reverse of when he held my hand while I was in labor. The body takes over. We are helpless in the face of our own bodies. They twist and writhe and suffer, and the brain can be the mightiest brain on earth and it means nothing.

I was married to that body. It belonged to me, as my body belonged to him. My body does not yet know that he is not coming back. It will.

"Thou'lt come no more.
Never, never, never, never, never."

Lear howls. I howl. Howl, wind, crack, ye heavens.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

I kept thinking these words. Over and over again, starting Tuesday, when I sat with the minister from the church across the street and chose text to be read at my beloved's funeral. Love does not bend with the remover to remove. The remover has removed and the love stays right where it was.

This is some tempest.

Why would that not shake the fixed mark? Well, now. There's a question.

I was as in love with him last week as I'd been, pretty much ever. Things were going well. I did not want my marriage to end. I still don't.

Neither did he.

It did, though. The death did us part. I found myself thinking about those words yesterday--what the hell is that? Who thinks about that when you say that part, the "oh yes, my love, I will by the way stop being your wife when you die." As if I could. How do I stop loving him?

Wouldn't it be easier if the intertwining of our lives and passions and minds could part just as suddenly? If I could be Not Married Anymore with the cleanliness and suddenness of his death? Instead as ever I've got nothing but a mess of my feelings and what words are really the right ones, anyway, and he was always so much better at the words than me. "Oh, no, you're the artistic one," he'd say. Yeah, right.

Go look at his photographs.

We brought him to the cemetary yesterday. Odd; I can't really see that word properly, "cemetary," it doesn't look right and I think I've misspelled it. Yes, I have--it's cemetery. Still looks wrong.

They didn't do what the movies I've seen show--and really, I'm pretty much completely working from fragments of movies, I suspect there will be a lot of that--they didn't lower my husband into his grave at the end of what is called "the commital." Which I have no doubt spelled incorrectly. I can certainly spell "doubt." They didn't lower him into the ground at the end. They waited until I went away. I asked Leslie, so they can be sure I won't throw myself in after him, right? Right, she said. Because we both knew I wanted to.

Not that I want to be dead myself. I just want to be with him. As long as I'm with him, it's okay. There is this visceral need I have to be with my husband. But I can't.

I've been reading Joan Didion's book, "The Year of Magical Thinking." I'd been meaning to get around to it. Now instead of being this sad, unbearable tragic memoir, reading it is an experience in recognition. Oh, yeah, I think. Yeah, I'm in that space, too. You, too, Joan? Yeah, I keep going over the details of what happened, too. And no, I guess it isn't going to make him not die if I find some way to understand what I should have done, and when, to make him not die. My writing voice today is colored with bits of hers.

If I finish the book quickly, will I finish this pain, too?

Breathe. Remember to breathe.

I went to the cemetery today (and spelled it correctly this time). The dirt is over him now. The flowers, too, which I sort of thought would be down under the ground, but they're not, they're right there, arranged in a sort of line, filling the rectangle of dirt where my husband is now. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, my love.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Worst Thing

At 11:30 pm on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, my darling Steve's heart stopped beating. Doctors tried to start it up again for an hour. It just wouldn't go.

There was no warning. He had no symptoms (snoring, maybe?). He started having chest pains while he was driving home from work.

He was 48.

The worst thing, now is. The worst day so far was yesterday. Followed by today.