MEMORIES THAT LINGER ON
There is often a time, early in the morning, at 3:00 when I find myself wide awake. Staring at the ceiling with memories. If I am lucky, I may get up and write, but as to going back to sleep that is usually difficult or impossible. This is a habit that I often wish I could not have, but I have no control over it. It was at three fifteen on March 5th of 2011 that she left me, a time that seems both a life time, but also only a short time ago. There is a problem with being “too much in love”, because then it will never let you go, this is my situation today, as it has been over the past nine years, fifty years of a love life just can not just suddenly stop.
Love and happiness is how we know that the present time is our loving the “right time of life”, often we do not realize this until that time is past, and it is impossible to bring it back, except in our memories. You can study books on theoretical physics, evolution, or a parallel universes. But there is just no way to “turn back time” or even stop it.
Before her sickness became severe, she thought that it was just a stomach ache, but when she died, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the ways I had failed her for not forcing her to see a specialist, even though she said “it will pass”. I felt that I had caused stress that exacerbated her illness. Failure was a logical thought that led from my ‘loving married past’, straight to my ‘widowed present’,,,, if only time could be turned back~!
In those final days at the hospice, several things were happening that are burned into my memory. One is that several friends in music came by and would sing for her or played peaceful music, then as she weakened, she was worried about her bladder being full, I assured her that she had a catheter, but she was worried about being embarrassed.
When a family member came to visit, I would take that opportunity to walk outside and around the block, but could not, or did not want to stay away very long. Also she wanted me to lie with her on that tiny bed and hold her. I was happy to do so, holding her in my arms, though at times it became embarrassing to me, when the doctor or an attendant came in, but I am so happy to have had these last moments holding her in my arms. In the final hours, I could only hold her hand and rub her arm so she would know that I was there with her, and this is how we spent that last night of her life together.
So my “time interruption” took place at three in the morning, in a hospice bed, when the love of my life departed this earth. Holding her hand, I felt the life slip out of her, and in that instant, for me, our mutual time together stopped for ever, when my wife died of cancer. That memory will live with me for the rest of my life, and I can not go back beyond that moment in time, though I try, even in my dreams in sleep.
When your beloved one dies, your memory is at risk. Your past no longer fits your story of who you are. In order to change your story, you must change either time or memory, and this can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you do not have other loved ones around to help you forget, in order to head in a different direction in time. And never tell a grieved person that their loved one is “in in a better place~!!”.
I live in that time capsule, where I look at her portrait on the wall, and feel her eyes following me around the room. I hear a noise or see a shadow flick in the darkness, and feel her presence, my dog barks at nothing tangible. But still there is no way that I can go back in time, except in my memories. Sometime a happy memory, often sad, that we can not re-live of those times of love except in our memories..
I do not believe Freud’s idea of “healthy grief”, (mourning, as opposed to melancholy), as is the process of removing your desire from a lost object or loved one, and reinvesting that desire in something or someone else. If this worked universally, there would be many less suicides. It may work for some but has not worked for me. This definition suggests that to grieve for your beloved, healthily, is to change your love for her or him. Freud must not have had a very healthy love life~! Grief often causes survivors to forget the face of the dead. That face belongs to a shared time that is lost, when the beloved is lost. I have not been able to do this~! Nor do I really want to.
Our memories are supposed to fade. We are supposed to forget. There are some people whose memories never seem to weaken, or they fade very slowly, and I am one of those persons. It is said that it is like living with a split screen: on the left side is the present, on the right is a constantly rolling reel of memories. For sufferers of perfect memory, the past is not just recalled — it seems to play out alongside the present. The cost being that painful events from the past continue to torment us. Sometime I wish it to be normal, and at other times I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything.
I once had a lady friend, visiting my home who angrily said to me: “there always seems to be a third person in the room”. My reply to her was “Yes there may be, but the third person is YOU~!” You probably know that she never had that problem with ME again~!
On the other hand, the mind may be a time machine — however in that we only travel via memory. This is a disappointing compromise. In mourning, memory is just another cause for mourning. It does not change time, but only reminds one that time has passed. And let me advise you, never tell a friend or loved one that they must forget, or not be depressed. This is bad advice and can be an impossible thing to do, however you can help them by giving them more pleasant thoughts, good music, a change in the situation, a drive in the country, or just getting out of the place that causes such feelings to bloom.
After the “funeral”, celebration of her life, I would visit with friends, find other things to do, and places to visit, but when all was done, I would return home and feel her presence in the room, and I would be about to call out to her, then I would remember who and where I was. For that instant, I would not remember that she was dead, I only remembered that I was alone and very lost without her.
If you have similar feelings, then I know, for sure, that you had a strong love in time, and it does get easier, but it will never completely go away, and you can not go back in time, but you can try to have another day in time, as she advised me to do before she died, where you will reinforce that love. Then that portrait will have a little smile, I know because I have seen it.
SO HERE IS ONE OF THE MANY POEMS I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT HER AND OUR LIFE TOGETHER –
THIRD ONE IN THE ROOM
A habit that I can not drop,
but one I cherish so,
and when I really try to stop,
that inner, voice, want let me go.
For you see it is just a part of me,
and a melancholy one as well,
so I let it take a hold you see,
and to you about it, I must tell.
Ingrained in my body and soul,
from the one who loved me so.
My mind and heart she has a hold.
And will not let them go.
I loved her from the day we met,
with strong love through all her life.
Our life and love was so closely set,
through happy times and strife.
So in my sad times, and the good,
she still is first in line,
thoughts that are not understood,
except in wanderings of my mind.
So do not tell me what to do,
when we are sitting in a room,
saying there’s more than just we two,
a third one is causing gloom.
My answer to you my dear,
my life may be accursed,
for the third one here is, I fear,
one who found and loved me first.
But love I have to go around,
she, while being cancer cursed,
said there are others to be found,
to help fill your empty thirst.