My body aches from a weekend spent diligently working to clear the dining room table and living room of stuff in order to ready the house for Christmas decorations. Even parts of the basement are neat and organized. I am proud, but tired. Interspersed with this burst of cleaning there has been the usual work of grocery shopping and fixing meals. On the surface the days seem to progress from one to another in relatively stable fashion. But underneath it all there is a reservoir of anguish roiling in my heart which threatens to spill at any moment out into the world. Erhard has invaded my dreams just like he consumes my waking thoughts, appearing suddenly and ordinarily as if nothing had changed. I cling to him but he his distant and waking up leaves me shaking and vulnerable.
I have a dozen sincere requests for conversation and comfort but I feel myself withdrawing from all of them in an attempt to stabilize my inner world without having to explain to anyone the gnawing hunger that propels me constantly to feel less and do more. My fears are both unfounded and entirely pragmatic, how will we survive this? How do I continue to keep this house afloat until I can secure some form of regular income for myself, not having to rely on anyone, although the offers and the ability are there. I want to step out of the dependency shadow I endured for more than three decades. While Erhard's love was unconditional, my status was not... and It grieved and angered me through my twenties, thirties, forties... and haunts me still. Now that he is gone I flail to cast off this net, vowing never to walk into such a prison again.
I mourn him every day...lighting the candle in the bookshelf – my clear Catholicism on constant display. The flame comforts me as it flickers and arches to embrace the oxygen that surrounds it. A tiny light, but a powerful metaphor. Writing becomes my voice, my solace. Surrounding me with words that bereft of paper do not bubble to the surface as easily. An armada of relief ships threatens to submerge my tiny lifeboat. How do I tell the world I know of your support, but I must do this for now alone and in my own time? I stumble between intense focus and a fuzzy confusion which obliterates all evidence of the path I walk. Progress is spastic and intermittent. But it is my progress, my work which will eventually lead me back to some semblance of a normal life. The list of people waiting for me is growing endless, and I fear losing myself in the wash of their emotional outpourings. I loathe the reminders of my own desperation and loneliness.
Their names form the architecture of my history – reaching across decades to define the external parameters of my identity. They stand as sentinels, guarding me from the larger world as I struggle to birth a new inner identification. Erhard's presence had wrapped them all into his, covering every available space with his love and protection. In his absence each has moved closer to the other in a valiant attempt to reinforce the spaces that now appear, ragged and maimed, in my scaffolding. How do I communicate to them that my awareness of their presence is laced with both gratitude and fear? Fear that I will never be able to sufficiently speak to each of them individually? That I do not know where to begin? Is it really as simple as making a list and power-dialing it through the course of an entire day just to touch base with each of them for a few moments or hours? Would that finally ease my distress at their constant invitations? Or do I resort to some mass mailing that explains my situation and thanks each of them for their patience? That seems so trite. But each conversation feels as if it is cleaving words from my soul that I am simply not ready to speak.
I am lost in a tunnel of questions. What trepidation holds my tongue captive? Why am I so reticent to reach out to the world that I myself constructed? The certainty of my love and allegiance to them is certainly not at issue... then what forces me into this vortex of silence? I do know know... but the mere thought of stepping out from inside this hurricane is akin to the prospect of slowly splaying my flesh from my frame. My emotions lie like shards of broken glass just beneath my vocal chords, purging them causes only pain and hemorrhage. Explaining myself leaves me looking like an imbecile – unable to vocalize my hesitancy in any coherently adult form. So I remain frozen and uncommunicative in this catacomb as the cacophony grows louder.
It is in silence that I find my moments of contentment... tiny glimmers of happiness and balance find their way through the cracks like colorful weeds struggling to break the surface of city pavement to enjoy the sunshine just inches from where they root. Within this bubble I am safe and I am at peace. But this ataraxis comes at the exclusion of any movement towards honoring my fidelity to those I love and who need to hear from me. It is bitter medicine. Yet at my desk, when the house is quiet and dark, I find my comfort here at the keyboard. Since moving my desk into the bedroom I feel so much more contained and that is good and solid consolation. My private shelter. I feel at home here. Even when the house returns to life I can count on this space to be soothing and remote.
Good thing too, since the work still left to be done can be consuming... whether I choose to focus on the house, my now disrupted education, or my financial future the options and tasks are so numerous, and their urgency so pervasive, that I become mired in the muck of the mountain and make no headway. Escape is not an option, neither is failure. My mind still blurs when I attempt to revisit academia in any form, the financial obligations mount and I am crushed under the weight of their liability... the house – manual labor interspersed by decision – is all that has served me in these last weeks. I have retreated into organization and cleaning as therapy. Along the way I have found hours of prudence that allow me to conduct the financial business of running a home and the fortitude to attend classes and bring my whole self to its pursuit. But these moments of audacity are short-lived in comparison to the hours I spend blankly staring into the gaping void of my future.
Tomorrow is Monday... the first working day of December for me and my academic existence. Will I be ready to process facts and information and complete more than a cursory perusal through my semester? I am praying as I write... because I really don't know. I know I love school, love the subjects I am learning, love the challenge... but I also know that the person who attended classes this semester is lying broken in this room, attached to his keyboard, clinging to the hope that her brain cells will reengage. Praying that I don't wake in in a cold sweat from another dream... frightened and childlike, alone in my bed. But I will. I already know what tomorrow morning looks like because it will look like every other morning since October 12th passed into history.
So I blog... write what I cannot speak, hope that something will move inside of me that makes me want to exist here in a world where everything of meaning is either history or leaving... or changed in ways I do not yet understand. Where every joy has its shadow, every agony is endless... what can I say to those who stand ready to comfort me? I am coming... wait for me? I am fine, moving forward? No. These would be lies. What I am saying is give me time, I don't know... I am clumsy and imperfectly human. I am grieving. But I am aware. Conscious and on my own life-support. I am returning, but for now... I am gone. Leave me if you must... love me if you can. They say that time heals all wounds. I beg its truth. But for now I fear not the weeping wounds for they draw me closer to my future. Purge me of my remorse and my doubt, temper me is some hideous fire. Spare me not...do your worst... I am ready to face this abyss of agony.