dimanche 11 septembre 2011

conversation with my dead husband

a stream of consciousness remembrance...

there's a lot of love in there, in that big heart of yours. i don't want to let it go, i want to keep it all right here next to me on the bed to sing about when i'm dying. i want to sing about all the love i knew now and then, love for you, before you, and after you too. love when i was cracking up after we split, love when i was getting back my health after the abandonment, love when our child moves through the world without knowing what it meant. it meant everything, our marriage.

some love goes on even when two people separate after years of fighting. it goes on every time the other person walks into a room as i walked into your hospital room two years ago not knowing that i was seeing you for the very last time. there were no goodbyes, just see you soons, and though the prognosis was not good, they told me at the beginning of summer that you could live a year or more. they were wrong: a heart can give out sooner because it's invisible, no one can see what's happening on the interior. you were tired, that's for certain. no one worked harder than you did.

i don't believe in an ever-after, i believe in the now of your memory, and even if i idealize who you were, no one will ever know because you're not here to show them, not standing in front us with your redundant talk about selling stuff and getting rich or your childhood baggage or your corrosive jealousy. no, you're here as a ghost and i'm just remembering how i felt when i came home from work and you were already stirring chicken dumplings at the stove. you'd been on a tar roof in the hot sun all day and yet there you were, standing in the steam. you even went to the store first to get the ingredients. you did things like that all the time. i used to talk about equal relationships but you lived them.

remembering you is easy now and i can even allow myself to feel angry at you without any guilt. it's easier to have bad feelings about someone when they live. it takes honesty to say i'm still mad at you. and it takes even more to say that i never stopped loving you for so many years after we split and even then, i loved you as an old friend. you were the father of my child, you were the plague of my existence, you abandoned me when i was at the height of my love for you and you know what? i wasn't a saint either, i wasn't miss perfect. i was cold sometimes and tired from overwork, i was ambitious. but you loved me tirelessly until you stopped believing in my fidelty but i swear one more time to you alive and dead, I was always faithful. it had to be psychosis to make you doubt that. it had to be the terrible lack of self esteem from when you were sent away to boarding school at 4. i've thought about it until i'm dizzy with rationalizations. but it doesn't matter now. just believe me when i say i loved you and only you for all the years we lived together.

tell our son that his mother needs him. i remember how when he came to live with you when he was 10 and as he grew into a young man, you used to tell him to call his mother. he needs you to remind him again. he wants absolute freedom from some dim memory of me as a rotten mama. he never knew the back story and even when he did, he chose not to believe it. i wanted that absolute freedom once too, but now i know something about needing another person because when you get ill, you no longer have a choice: you're dependent or you die, it's that simple. well, i chose life, richard, and you did too. you chose to make your death heroic, and i was privileged to be a part of it.

please just tell him to call me. we're all we have left now that you're still dead. remind him that it wasn't all that terrible. help him remember i-hop and bowling, candyland and kung fu. help him remember blanquette of chicken and genoise cakes. help him remember massages all night long when his legs hurt. help him remember how proud he used to be of me and of us. help him trust that again.

now go on and be dead, as i'm sure you're used to it by now. we never quite arrive at the same comfort zone. no, we miss having you in the world. xoxoxoxo

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