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December 5 & 6, 2021

The bothersome thing about grey days, is that it’s like the day itself never fully wakes up and is, from beginning to end, just hovering in a medial state with its eyes only half-opened. Today, is one of those days: neither morning or night, and no indicator of noon. I feel especially lost on these grey days. They are an outward projection of where I am inside my mind: aka The Library. If others see this point of view, I fear it will be seen as added fuel to unwanted fire, and instead of standing by its heat and gazing into its orange-spectral glow, there will be immediacy to stamp it out and prevent oxygen from reaching its tiniest embers. Dense smoke and charred earth from these efforts cannot disguise or eliminate the simple truth: grief and love are tightly holding each other, bound in an inseparable lover’s knot. Everywhere it finds me, often in a conspicuous heart-shape. More about that later.

Today’s grey day has me wrapped in my too-big-for-me fuzzy navy-blue robe, still not fully dressed at 2pm, curled up on my family room, brown-corduroy couch, staring outside towards backyard woods-edge-horizon, into what is a washed-out, bleak scene. Darkened tree branches connect at various heights, flattened into veined silhouettes against pale sky, the snowless landscape of browns and dulled-greens directs dampened-light through the big picture window and seeps into my unblinking eyes as I travel back into my mind’s space. Maybe now is the time for reflection.

Two months ago, I chose to press Pause, which felt more like Skip. I am not ready to press Play because this story, my life, feels unreal and, at times, too uncomfortable and painful to be in. I heard to myself, over and over:

“I can’t think about this right now, I have to go to work, my kids need to talk, and I have to look like I have my shit together. What I really want to do, is ride my bike, but that is off the table: ongoing health and safety issues haunt me more than any ghost.”

So, two months ago, I silently retreated to The Library, my most private space, and I have not yet left its corridors and rooms surrounded by books in every size. What happened two months ago? To be exact, October 6, 2021, the milestone, 5-year-mark since my husband-partner died from cancer. I was unable to publicly acknowledge this date in real-time. Unapologetically, I blocked out it’s coming and going, finding time made no time for reflection when it was needed most. With many apologies, there are kind notes I had received from caring people that remain unopened, and I’m still waiting for energy to provide an extra-boost for reading and replying. No excuses, I surprised myself at the level of emotional withdrawal from acknowledgment, even though having so much to say. Silence is not acceptance.

Hesitation to let true feelings form into written words, this is best overcome with a letter to Jon. If I cannot be honest and open with myself, speaking to him, usually melts these frozen thoughts.

Dear Jon,

We need to talk. So many things are hidden because you are not here for me to show only to you. I wish it were late at night, and we were in bed curled into each other, our faces together sharing the same breath, darkness covering us as an insulated, added-layer to our warmth. Our time now, my writing to you, is so precious to me. I will say what’s most concerning, but you know I cannot rush through what is on my mind. This letter will have an ending, but my love for you is like Pi: infinite and it always makes perfect sense.

First, decisions being made each day worry me, I see that each choice takes me along bracket-style paths: one decision after another leads me to entirely different outcomes and new challenges. It’s yes-and-no-type-of-stuff mixed with lots of either-this-or-thats. I feel there is no turning back from decisions or altering the choices I make. There is too much smell of doubt, and regret has been tapping me on my shoulder.

Since you left, there has been no one here I feel comfortable enough with talking through choices: my evaluations are one-sided-convos and are missing depth-added by your smiling at me with understanding-eyes twinkling, because you know me sometimes better than I know myself. I think that’s the issue here, you held my brain in your beautiful hands and comforted worries and doubts. Your lips kissed and soothed tension in every part of me. My muscles and joints are now so sore without relief, and one hug from you would bring me the calm I am missing. I don’t like hugging people now. I avoid it, saying “no thanks, not a hugger,” and taking one extra-step back if I am within hugging-range. Six-feet apart has, indeed, given me room I need between me and other people. At best, I stand next to someone shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction like we are watching paint dry while talking. I digress, let’s get back on track.

Every day, I miss you more. I love you more. And just recently, I realized that missing you also means missing the chance to make things better that became so broken. The all-time life-distraction by cancer, left us all in a mode of perpetual unfinished business. I am missing any opportunity to go back in time before our rollercoaster was going too-fast to slow-down and prevent it from crashing. We crashed. You died. I don’t want to ride that rollercoaster again, but my pounding heartbeat reminds me that I feel like I’m still riding on it, and knowing there is another drop or sharp turn just ahead, means a constant tenseness to prepare for anticipatory torque.

The rollercoaster from last October began with thoughts of “I have nothing.” Which then lead to, “I am nothing.” Better stated: I have nothing of our life together, I am nothing since that life has ended. Best concluded: nothing means you, and you were everything. I am something, but without you, I am anything besides who I used to be. Sadly, these thoughts continue, and I am holding on, bracing myself for the next bend which involves facing my identity realizations. You know who I am, but I am finally seeing myself as I am now, and like just tipping forward over a coaster hilltop crest, I did not see this one coming.

One more thing, we have to talk about the guest room closet. I still have a closet full of your clothes. So many things have become cared for by someone else, but still, there is a full closet of your clothes with almost a dozen pairs of shoes. I am like what remains in this closet. It exists, but is neither cared for or touched. It hangs, motionless behind accordion doors. It rarely smells of you, and more so, smells like a pop-up thrift shop. We will talk about this again, soon.

I miss you, I love you, I wish you were here.

With love, Puskie ❤️

P.S. If you’re going to be in my dreams, please be less mysterious and more matter-of-fact. xoxox

Decomposing Heart

It is crumbling, lacy holes signifying its changing form, from once leathery-vibrant-green flesh to a wispy-fragile-gossamer shell. It’s not quite done yet, but soon it will be gone. The very nature of decomposition is the breaking-down of one whole-form into elemental, primary-parts that made it into that whole. This leaf, composting in progress, is seen in a state of flux, in between a fully-recognizable, purposeful thing. Staring through dulled, early-evening light, I am having an out-of-body experience of looking back at myself: is it a reflection or a ghost I see? The in-between stage is messy: smelly, liquifying, gooey. It is a process involving heat, and over time, it may appear to shrink in size, however quietly increasing in concentration for its potential to start again as something new. What this leaf will be a part of next, has yet to be determined. For now, it is welcomed into a compost-heap stew, and its days as if discarded, will pass on into temporal understanding: it takes the time it takes to be, and it’s less of being completely gone, but more of being something you just don’t recognize, yet. ~Paula

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