Forever Without Her

When I woke up on the morning after she died, I made sure to do everything that I always did in the mornings because something told me that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, ever again. The only difference I can remember is that I did not linger in bed.

I rose up as quickly as I could. I walked to the kitchen and I made coffee. I went out to get the mail. To do these things sounds so simple. Yet, every step I took was distinct and pronounced. With each step, I continued, and I felt it, felt every single step. Each step was taking me farther away from her. Every step meant going on without her, every step was saying, “No. No. No. No.” Every step I took was wrong.

I did drink my coffee that morning, and I did my best to breathe. I don’t remember where I sat when I had the coffee, or what my thoughts were. I don’t remember much at all, except that it got worse.

One night in bed, my eyes were turned toward the area at the top of my bedroom window, and I felt a suffocating sense of foreverness. “Forever without her,” I whispered to myself, trembling. “Forever without her.” Then I must have drifted off to sleep.

During the days, I found myself weeping on the floor for hours, sometimes crying out her name. My baby girl…

She suffered so much in the end. Our last day together was a nightmare. She was having trouble breathing yet she still wanted to eat. She was trying to eat, unable to swallow because of her breathing. So she’d stop trying to eat, for a while, then try to eat again, then give up again. Finally, exhausted, she lay on the floor trying only to breathe.

We took her to the doctors again but there was nothing they could do. I always hated bringing her to the hospital because it upset her and she was afraid when she was there. I can’t bear that this suffering was her final experience. I never wanted her to die in that place.

She did die there, though. I was holding her when it happened. She had graced my life for twenty years.

She could make me smile in the darkest times. Just the sight of her, just a graze of her sweet softness, would bring the biggest smile to my dumb, suicidal, tear-stained face and, often with it, a little laugh of delight. Then I’d tell her I loved her, and I’d hold her in my arms and tell her the story of the day she came into my world. “I found you outside, in a shopping cart…” I would begin.

I could no longer dance. There was no joy, and I couldn’t dance without joy. Gravity had become much stronger, too, making it difficult to lift my feet or to move at all.

I managed to record one song on my computer. It was music I’d written long ago that had only one lyric, so I wrote the rest of the lyrics, for her. I recorded it, including the singing, and it was awful. It was hollow and flat, and it failed to convey her essence.

Then my music left me, altogether. I’m not sure when–it didn’t make an announcement that it was going. It was as if the music were an entity that had quietly disappeared, and one day, I realized it was gone. Sometimes, now, I look at my keyboard and I wonder if I still know how to play. But I never turn it on. I can’t sing anymore, either.

That life goes on without her is unsettling and so very wrong, for me. Everything is too desolate and sorrowful. The beautiful things in life become painful. The things we all love and appreciate, they hurt me. Beauty feels like a newly-sharpened knife, slicing. Flowers, smiles, singing birds, the dawn and the sunset, music… all have become beauty knives.

Bring her back to me or bring me to her. My only wish is to see her alive and well again, to hold her in my arms, to be with her forever.

I desperately try to make myself believe that it can happen.