Once, for a short time, we were separated. He was lured away by a siren with a pack of lies and a pied piper with an ample supply of pot.
Soon after, he saw through the haze and found his way back to me.
And once again his books, his records, his clothes, and all his favorite things came back into my life along with him. I loved being surrounded by his things. It made me feel close to him. I still do.
He was a beautiful corpse. That phrase keeps popping up in my mind. I think it’s the first line of my book. The book that’s inside me that I need to write.
I keep painting about him, hinting, being ambiguous, hoping others will connect with my paintings because they are slightly vague and more universally appealing, and at the same time including specific details so the people who knew him and loved him will recognize that my work is about him.
My book will be very specific. It will probably be described as heart wrenchingly tragic but sweetly beautiful. Certain people will probably disapprove and want me to keep quiet. But there will come a time when that swirl of feelings, visions, emotions leap out of me and into an organized pattern of words that tell the story.
In the meantime, I’ll keep painting. Now it’s his leather jacket. There’s still a cigarette butt in the pocket.
A work in progress….
It doesn’t really ever stop. It doesn’t go away. The hurt. The empty space.
And you never stop being a widow.
Even if after only a year you think you’re stuck (and wonder about the possibility that you may be holding him back from somewhere he’s supposed to move on to) and you push yourself to let go of some things and move forward. Even if you allow yourself to be manipulated by someone who says your grief is unhealthy and calls you “Courtney Love” and says you weren’t really a widow because you weren’t legally married in an attempt to dismantle your very identity and discount your experiences but at the same time convinces you he loves you and wants to be with you (despite his wife’s objections!) Even if you don’t talk about it, trying to avoid triggering this narcissistic new boyfriend who’s jealous of the dead guy. It’s all still there.
Even when three years goes by after you’ve eliminated the narcissist who tried his best to replace the dearest sweetest most brilliant person in the world and left you even more scarred and scared but in different ways, it’s still there. But now you’re free to express yourself without censorship.
Even when five years goes by, the shock of finding the dearest sweetest most brilliant person in the world hanging from a carefully constructed rope never leaves. It washes over you still sometimes in a giant wave that disrupts the current moment, makes you drop what you’re doing and work to wrap your head around it once again. The images don’t erase themselves. And you don’t want them to. In that image there is also incredible peace on his face. He was calm, his body relaxed. He stopped the hurt.
And you never stop being a widow.
Sometimes it still hits me. Like out of nowhere. I think of him, I feel him. My heart stops for a second. I remember he’s gone.
Five years later and still.
I wonder if that will ever stop. But I don’t really want it to.
The shirt. His shirt. The shirt he wore the first time I laid eyes on him. The time I fell madly in love with him, when I felt as if I’d found something I’d been looking for all my life. When I stopped looking and it walked in the door of the gallery with a big warm smile, carrying a newly finished sculpture. I think I stopped breathing
He was beautiful and brilliant and funny. That jacket still feels like him. Even though it’s gone through the wash. I can’t wear it. It feels too heavy.
One day Jeff said, “This is gonna change your life!” and he placed in my palm a small packet of golden watch hands.
He saw me struggle with time, how time taunted me, or rather, how I allowed it to taunt me. He helped me see how to disregard it, to just let things be. I was working on reconstructing time according to my own inclinations toward it, not how it’s typically imposed on us.
I realized that I’d been collecting old clocks. I’m drawn to them – the beauty of the design, the mystery of time that they hold. I wonder what was happening when the hands stopped moving on that particular timepiece.
These concepts of reality and time, you can construct them, stretch them, mold them, into what suits you. And when someone mentions “the real world” or thinks you’re not in it, they have no clue…