Writing has always given me joy, solace and peace of mind. I started writing poetry at the age of 10 and still have those poems pressed into a blue album that has sat on my shelf for over half a century. And yet, the one time I need those things more than any other time I find I am slow to write them down. Words drip into my partly numbed brain and hover briefly around me, only to dissolve like those little clouds we drive through on a winding mountain road on a cold autumn morning. They burn up at first light. Some of them however, sear my skin, stab a poker in my heart and leave me shredded and raw. Those words of death and loss and finality scream at me inches from my face and make me shut my eyes and clench my toes and hold my breath and hold back, for just one more second please let me hold off the inevitable avalanche of grief that wants to consume me for hours and hours and hours. I hold on begging my body to be calm, to breathe slowly, explaining I just can’t go through another 6 hours of heaving and wailing and sobbing.
But I do.
There are words shoving their way into and over and on top of other words. Pushing them out of the way. Take me, take me. I’m the word you want. Write me. They come at me, not to me, jumbled and stuck together with dried old tears. Glued to my heart, shards of memories that shatter into a violent, painful, aching moan.
Four months and I’m still waiting for him to come home. I want to write to him “Enough already. Come home. Just come home.”
Everything in our home is waiting. The freezer is filled with food he loves, waiting to be thawed and lovingly cooked. His chair, still slightly dented from the last time he sat looking down at his iPad writing words to friends, shopping lists, emails to our children. Words flowed from him through his fingers with such effortless ease. Our bed is waiting. Pillows neatly placed every morning after a night of wrestling, throttling squeezing and piling them around me. They pretend to be him and to be fair they do their best but they a hopeless. I never tell them because I may need them to pretend again tomorrow but they know and I know they are not him. I guess they are waiting too.
Those nights. Those dark salty demented nights are softened by the words I cannot write. I whisper, ‘Can you hear me? I’m here. Can you give me a little sign?” The pitch blackness quivers and I feel a tingling in my head. “Are you here? Is that you?” And I begin to share how it is and what I think and I imagine he is right here arm draped heavily around me as I talk and talk and remind him about the time we went skinny dipping at Hof Dado in Haifa and I laugh. “You only did it that once in all the years we were married. I laugh out loud and startle myself with the sound. And remember the time you were lifted high on a chair at our daughter’s wedding and you held on for dear life. Dear life. You are so fragile. So precious. So, fleeting. Somehow, I fall asleep and wake to a new day. Another day. I take 4 deep breaths and will my feet to step into this day not knowing how am going to make it through.
But I do.
I miss him. But I also miss me. That passionate, positive, powerful woman who relished and cherished every day. That mother of five who was rarely tired and who could write and study and cook and drop off and pick up and dress up without blinking twice. Grief takes away twice and it is a journey only those of us who have bid a final farewell to a loved one, really understand. I listen with such intensity when those who have undergone what I have just begun, speak to me. I relish their stories of healing and the gentle dawning of their new lives. I thirstily drink in their every word of possibility, potential and promise. I am overjoyed when one or two share their latest adventure and assure me they had a most wonderful time.
In the meantime, when I am asked how am I, I still take a few seconds to reconnect with my heart and scan my sense of self. I look within and then check the weather outside. Part of me is very thankful to be alive and to have the best family and dearest friends imaginable. The other part remembers how easily I once answered that question and I am struck by the realization that I am still waiting for her to come home too.