I went out last night. In public. I wasn't sure if I was 'ready' but it felt worth a try. I'd got my crying over in my bereavement counselling in the morning and I'd done my writing prompt for the day so I thought I might be safe from public displays of grief. Thought I might be able to handle it. I went to an outdoor screening of Baz Lurhmann's Romeo and Juliet and sat on striped deckchairs in the freezing cold April night. It was kind of fun for a while. I had nice chats with friends, drank a glass of prosecco, ate vegan nachos and watched a tragic love story unfold. I can relate to tragic love stories. It was fitting. I felt ok.
But then, when things feel ok for a while, suddenly, I don't feel ok anymore. I start to panic. I start to worry that I might be 'getting over' it, getting over you. I don't want to get over you. I don't ever want to get over you. When you really love someone, there's an urge to want that love to last forever. That's why people get married. That's why Romeo and Juliet got married. I want my love to last forever too.
It seemed so unlikely at first, that our love could last the distance. We had what you referred to as 'the lifestyle conundrum'. You lived in a shack in a field with no responsibilities while I was drowning in the responsibilities of single parenthood, living in a 'proper' house. You tried to end things before they'd begun. You were frightened of losing me. I was frightened of losing you too. We were middle-aged. We knew that life is not a fairy tale. We knew that things go wrong. Things had always gone wrong. But sometimes, we allowed ourselves to dream. I know you dreamed of marrying me. You said so. I felt it too. Not long ago we were standing hugging in my kitchen and I said, "shall we just get married and live happily ever after instead of splitting up? I think it might be nicer." And you said, "yes, let's do that. It sounds much better." Till death us do part. Death us did part. Way too soon.
And then, suddenly it happened. The man on the deck chairs in front of me leaned over and kissed the woman sitting next to him. And tears started spilling over my eyelids. I curled up in my blanket and let them stream down my cheeks. I will never sit next to you like that. Never hold your hand. Never feel you lean over to kiss me. I am alone, longing to hold onto the past, not wanting to ever love again. But not wanting this to be the end of love for me. In limbo. Unable to go back. Not wanting to go forward.
It might seem strange in this culture where we want to avoid pain, hold it together, keep moving, but I welcome the tears. The tears make me feel close to you. The pain is a reminder of how deeply I have loved. I don't want to forget my love. I don't want to move on.
So, I stay in the moment, as we always did. In some moments, I can smile. I had some of those today. I sat with a friend outside a coffee shop and talked of the future. I even laughed. I thought I was doing ok again. Five minutes later, I burst into tears on a relative stranger. It's just the way it is. I haven't forgotten. I haven't moved on. But maybe, gradually there are more moments where I smile.
It reminds me of a poem I wrote some time after my dad died.
The sun came out today.
It was an hour before I noticed
the warm rays rattling my surface,
the forced eviction of the clouds.
There was blue sky for the first time,
a contented sigh nestled in cream sheets,
warm, sleep-softened skin
and thoughts shimmering like
sharp-edged boats on a lustrous sea.
I played with them for a while,
Rearranging white sails, painting the
decks in rainbow hues.
Then I conjured a little breeze
and watched them race
surprised to see my own joy
out there in the lead.
I cheered her on and smiled,
picked daisies by the water’s side,
crowned myself the Queen of content
and lolloped in grass-stained diamond dew.
It was then that again, I thought of you.
I looked for your boat on the horizon,
scanned the sky for the familiar grey,
closed my eyes to conjure blackness,
but when I opened them I knew
The blue was too blue and the light was startling.
I turned to roll back into cradling fog,
went to pack up your memory in cottonwool clouds and
label it ‘Fragile’ leaving sadness etched
like your epitaph on my face.
But the sun kept on shining
And the boats still shimmered on the lustrous sea.
The sun came out today
I missed the rain.