When I met M, I had no intention of being in a relationship.
I had split up with my x, who was controlling manipulative, unfaithful and in general an ass. I was dating, and having a great time doing it.
We met at work, and initially I had no idea that we were actually dating. We had gone on 3 "dates" before I realized it and he had to tell me.
I found myself spending more and more time with him, this gringote who made me laugh so hard I snorted. I know, ladylike. But still. Not interested in a relationship, not intending on one, but being drawn back to him. Being drawn to his warmth. Just walking on the beach with him felt magical.
I have never, ever in my life been filled with the most incredible feeling of light as I was when we were together.
I don't need anyone to complete me. I am complete unto myself, and am able to deal with being *me*.
And yet... the feeling that my faults, while not inconsiquential, were meaningless in this context. The feeling that I was a part of something greater, an entity that was forming with or without my active participation was unreal.
When alone, i questioned how could this be?
This person was outside of my social and cultural context, frankly, during my working days had to build significant defenses in order to be able to function effectively. When you are treated as representative of your race/people all day, every day, you have to strive to put the best forward as any little slip can (and was) seen as "see!!! I told you puerto ricans' were_______" in fact, I was informed of how "we" were meeting stereotypes that I didn't even know existed.
It was not a right time for a relationship, on the heels of a break up of a 10 year marriage. I wasn't ready to put myself out there in any sort of meaningful way....
But. It was him.
It was light and joy, effortless, completion.
His touch on the small of my back transported me to new places, places I had never been to, calm still waters of the mind where only light was allowed.
And that never changed. No matter how angry, how upset or hurt we got with each other, just that touch, from him or me, took us back there, where nothing else mattered.
When he lay there, the last few days.... beyond responding, beyond answering me "I know" when I told him that I loved him... I whispered to him, I told him how much he meant to me, free flowing thoughts coming out, no coherence, probably badgering the poor man, but a constant stream, interrupted only by the many, many visits from his friends around the country.
I didn't believe he would die. I didn't think he would leave me.
But the hospice nurse said that he only had a few days. That if there were people to be contacted, that they should be.
So I went through his phone. I went through my emails for names of the people that he mentioned that meant something to. I called everyone I could think of, and emailed those I didn't find numbers for.
There were people in there he hadn't spoken to in quite some time. Those that couldn't make it sent emails, long ones filled with love that I read to him. People whom he hadn't spoken to in years dropping everything and flying across the country to see him one last time.
A constant barrage of people.
I busied myself w/ cleaning, hostessing, writing his friends, comforting his children, parents, being comforted in turn by them.
Attempting to make impossible decisions on should he have more pain medication? What did it mean when he scratched at himself restlessly? Was it pain, or was it something else? Was he trying to communicate and what would happen if he had more medication? Would it help him to rest? Would it help the family to bear it better if the moans that are typical of the dying (found this out later) were surpressed?
how could I make these decisions? How could I tell what was best for him? For them? For me?
For me, the best would have been to have him aware, to be able to talk to him, to know that he was ok with leaving, that he was leaving because he had to and not because he didn't love me enough to stay...
His best friend, Charles, pulled me aside, by request of the family because they were worried, and asked me to sit with him for awhile. Bitterly resenting the time spent away from M, even a minute felt too long, he asked me to breathe. to clear my head, and to talk to him about M.
I did. As much as I could, I talked to him about him. Charles was the person who spent the most time talking and visiting with M, outside of me, when he was in the hospital.
Charles told me that during these visits, he had talked to M about his leaving. They had discussed that if things didn't go the way that they wanted them to, what did M want for his family? For me? He said that M told him that he wanted me to know that if he left, it wasn't because he didn't want to stay, it wasn't because he didn't want to fight hard enough to stay, but that he just couldn't. That he would be always be there with me, and that he loved me more than anything else in this world, or the next. And that I'd never be alone. That he felt better leaving, because he knew I would continue to care for his children, at least as much as he did, even if in a different way.
He also told me that I needed to say goodbuy, that I needed to let M go. That it was his time, and his body was no longer a proper receptacle for his spirit, that the body had been corrupted and keeping him in it was torturous to him and not a way to honor the love that I have for him.
So, the family and I went in. We congregated around the bed. I, close to his head, my hands caressing him, holding him, telling him that it was ok, that he had done well, that could leave, that we loved him and forever would.
In my head and my heart was a constant screaming and wailing that belied the words that I said to him. I begged his with every fiber of my being not to leave me.
I sang to him, "you are my sunshine..."
Three endless, tortourous days of this.
People coming in and out, children, bringing light to his eyes, even briefly, the joy and the sparkle when baby E came.
Nights were mine. Laying on the floor beside his bed. Listening to him. Turning him when the pain became too great in one position. Rubbing his back and shoulders the way that he liked. singing to him, pouring every bit of mylove into him to strengthen him, for whatever his next step was.
His breathing becoming more and more labored.
Still not belieiving that he was dieing, sure that Universe would help him rally, that he would come back and be with me forever, I asked on that last night if someone could stay with him, for a couple of hours to try to get some sleep.
His sister agreed, she would stay in his room for 2 hours, and then we would shift off.
I went into his room at the time we had agreed. His constant moaning with each breath still rattling his chest and throat. She appeared to be asleep, so I went back to my place. Lay there, loving him, pouring out my prayers to the Universe for him, giving him every fiber of my being and strength, hoping against hope.
I hear movement, lift my head, there is his sister, gesturing me to her...
I go in. He is no longer there. There is only the shell left behind.
You never feel the deepest wounds in the instant that they happen. A deep knife cut, a rending of your skin, can't feel it until the nerves wake up.
At that moment, fog settled in my mind. I could no longer see beyond the next minute. His family came in, his father grabbing me by the shoulders "did he suffer?!?!" his mom wailing "my baby boy!!!!"
I waited with him until the hospice nurse came. She declared it, and dressed him.
I went back in. There was heavy fog outside, obscuring his last view of the yard, the link fence, and the ocean that he loved.
The fog penetrated my thoughts, no longer able to feel or hear, numb.
His father, ever in charge, took down the information for the obituary, asking what mattered to people, conferring with me, with his children. All of us contributing. My only requests: Acknowledge his eldest child, whom he had no contact with to his everlasting sorrow, and the grandbabys. Gladly done.
M's father shepherded me through the process, driving me to the funeral home, making the arrangements, securing the times, and places, making the announcements.
I have no memory of most of this. All that existed was a longing to walk into that fog. The desire deep within in me to follow M on that journey, to traverse the path, just a few steps behind him... so easily achieved by walking down that path in the harbour, into the ocean...
I was not left alone for a moment. If i went to the bathroom, there was someone standing outside the door.
My son had driven from North Virginia to be there. He hovered.
M's children hovered.
I held people as they cried.
I watched the people coming in as they paid their respects.
I screamed, inside. Over and over again, words, communication filtered through the neverending screaming in my head.
Finally, a moment alone, and I screamed aloud. Over and over. I don't know how long I did that for.
I know that I slammed my hands over and over into the floor. That I flailed, i screamed and wailed my anguish. That my poor family, who collected outside my door, were forced to listen to this, without respite, until I collapsed.
There is just no way to describe, how when your soul is torn in two, the unending, unendurable agony.
Now, instead of the visible gaping wound, the surface has closed. I'm able to walk around, mingle with people. I can front, even laugh.
But even when surrounded, I am alone. I am separate from those around me, with a barrier in place that I don't think can ever be surmounted.
And when I drank the other night, it was an attempt to re-connect. To try to stop the pain, to find a way that I could feel something else again, even if briefly. The best that it did was that i felt nothing for a little while.
A very short while, and the aftemath was not worth that little bit of time. And the thought that if he saw me like that, he would not recognize me that I am a different person. That my soul has been shattered and what's left is a shell.
And the fog is still here.