Seven years: an ending and a beginning

For seven years, my Saturday ritual has included a visit to Jane's grave. Today seemed different.

For seven years, my Saturday ritual has included a visit to Jane’s grave. Today seemed different.

The cemetery

I drove to the cemetery this morning. The ground was covered in a thin coat of snow and there was a touch of wind. It was cold, but I’d dressed for it. I stood at Jane’s grave. I said some things to her stone–private things and not so private things. The things one says at the grave of one seven years’ dead after seven years of mourning.

Tell them you love them in word and in deed.

I received no signs–no acknowledgment. I didn’t expect any. Her rebirth came nearly three years ago. I can see her toddler form in my mind’s eye, can see her parents, can almost hear her new voice. Her soul remembers me, but not her child-mind-body. She has new and old work before her–work that eventually will take her to new places and new loves.

The length of seven years

I miss her. I will miss her until Time’s river brings our souls together again some lifetimes from now. In the scope of time, that will be the blink off an eye. But that is not how we experience time in these mortal vessels. From that perspective, seven years is both the blink of an eye and an eternity. Today stretches on infinitely despite the efforts of my friends to distract me–despite my own efforts to distract me–from the events of seven years ago.

I received no signs–no acknowledgment.

A death watch is a hard thing. The details etch tendrils of acid into the brain more deeply than any but the brightest joys–and even those joys they somehow occlude and pervert to a degree. I can see Jane coming down the aisle toward me on our wedding day, remember with crystal clarity waking up on Christmas morning in our new home. Each Valentine’s Day morning, each Christmas morning is still there. And yet each now has a faint tinge of what we did not know was coming.

An imperfect love

In some senses, those memories are the richer for that knowledge. But they remain painful to look at–almost too painful to be fully enjoyed. When I return to the present moment, I know there will be no more new memories of the two of us together–not in this lifetime. I am starved for the simple joy of her voice coming through the door, of the simple note tacked to a door, of her feet in my lap as we watched TV or graded papers.

Today stretches on infinitely…

We argued. We disagreed with each other. Sometimes we shouted at each other. There was nothing perfect in us or in our relationship. But we loved each other–our lives wrapped up in each other. Our souls meshed at every level. We thought everyone’s did. But we also knew maintaining that mesh required an every day effort from both of us–even in anger, even in pain.

Death is easy–compared to love

Letting her die was easy compared to what followed. Her body failed her. I knew what she wanted when there was no more hope, no more value to her going on. I loved her enough to let her body go–let her soul move on. But it broke my heart in ways neither of us saw coming. Seven years later, it still hurts.

…our lives wrapped up in each other.

And yet, I keep trying to move forward one step at a time. Somehow, these two days have a sense of closure to them–the kind of closure funerals bring in our mythology of death and mourning, but rarely deliver to those closest to the one dead. I have cried a different kind of tears this weekend, tears that seem to say good-bye rather than express the pain of mourning. There is sorrow and hurt in them–yet something more, as well. I can’t explain that something more–just report its existence.

Seven years’ of lessons

The journey continues. The work continues. NET cancer still needs a cure. The world still needs the lessons we spent our lives serving–still needs ambassadors for unconditional love, for the use of evidence and logic and compassion, for all the things we tried to be flawed exemplars of. Death does not stop us or end our work–just shifts it to other venues.

Seven years later, it still hurts.

Tonight, give your loved ones an extra hug, an extra kiss. Tell them you love them in word and in deed. Give an extra thought to those who live on the fringes–to the homeless, the hungry, and the bereft. And remember the sick and the dying and those who care for them. Do all you can to lift the burdens of others. It is what Jane did every day of her life. It is what I try to do.

Posted by walking with jane on December 10, 2017

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