How do I write as I am called to write, and bow with respect to the fact that DEATH is at the core of this story? What’s the “story of the story” I’m in?
After Jon died, I needed desperately to remember the man that I married, the one before: death, cancer, moving, jobs, kids… I needed to turn back the time machine and remember HIM, the reasons why we fell madly in love, what was the original “us”, and why we had children together. What motivated him and me then? Where did he go now? What the hell happened to me along this journey, and who am I anyway? The beginnings of Jon and I started as a long distance relationship in the 1990s. He lived in Chicago, I lived in Pittsburgh. There was AOL, IM and faxing. We would write long emails to each other sharing stories, revealing our deepest, dirtiest thoughts, and all the while falling in love. We did not realize this until after we were engaged and living together, but each of us printed out all of each others’ emails. We each had our own hanging file folder time-capsule of our private thoughts to each other. I saved plane ticket stubs and funny photo booth pictures, too. We were fueled by writing out our fantasies and dreams and a sharing a vision of the future yet to unfold. We did not have to reread them at the time, each letter was absorbed into our minds, just like the curves and contours of each of our bodies.
For Jon’s first of three requested ashes spreading events, I needed especially to reread these emails. Last February, I chose to do Northwestern University in Chicago first, where we were married and first lived together, to reconnect with how we began. Our lengthy diatribes spoke to the raw and intense nature of our relationship, a nature that lasted until his death. For his ashes ceremony, I found in one of the letters a paragraph to use where he spoke to what he saw happening after he dies. I was somehow not surprised to find something like this, no subject was off limits. I will only paraphrase here and tell you that he wanted the memories of his soul to be released to sparkle like the stars, free of their living bonds to roam, to build stronger, to gather energy. When I reread the whole thing just now, it is so him. I worry of only one thing: in my night blindness I cannot see stars at night like most people, only the North Star and the moon of course. Will this be another death of him if I cannot see him in the night sky?
I have talked about getting back to the essence of me, and my writing is everything to creating, holding, and making love. Every word I write, I write for him to read, to know, I am searching for him in my mind again. It is in my mind where he first took root. Since Northwestern, Jon’s voice has no longer been heard in my mind, which was a second death of him. I lost his voice and the feel of him entirely. I thought I could move forward. My old habits are hard to break. I confess I am trying to find what cannot be found. There is no substitute, and no understudy will stand in his place. I am trying to find him in my writing, but it’s just my voice alone, it’s just a fantasy not rooted in reality anymore.
Jon and I would joke that our emails could be read by our children someday, after we were both dead. My writing after his death is all a part of the same Fractal, different scale, it will be added to our “record” of us. It is important that our kids know their parents loved each other. After all of the hurts in recent years, this will be needed later when the time is right. A way for our kids to have knowledge and memories when their own brains may choose to put it all in cold storage. Our lives now only separated by death, our writing is the common thread transitioning from one state of being to the next. I am trying desperately to “take it all in” when everything right now is “without.” For me, I am also planting seeds for a future yet to come. If I have any hope of a someone, somewhere, at some point, it will be meaningful that these writings are available for new people to read — to understand where I’ve been, where I’m at, and imagine where I may be going. When asking outright about my grief and loss can be so elusive, the writings answer so many questions. It is so important that our story be told and heard because it is what was “real.” It is the story of my life and heart, and I am willing to share it, with those who wish to read about it.~Paula