Maybe the last about Janice
Contemplating the ragged holes
I was talking to a friend recently about grief. His girlfriend committed suicide several years ago, and he’s still dealing with it. I suppose suicide colors everything, though I have no clue how, and even if I knew I wouldn’t know what that meant to the people affected, each of us being unique and all.
His lover died quickly and unexpectedly; my wife died slowly and predictably—way different experiences for all concerned, and still the ragged holes left by their exits are remarkably similar. The world seems incomplete.
Of course, the world is always complete and changing continuously. It’s just that right in through here my world includes an unpredictable feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, like anticipating something that’s already over.
Several times a day I’ll read something or think of something that I want to tell Janice or show her or ask her about, and I can’t. I remember right away that I can’t ever see or touch her again, and that can take some time. If I’m thinking about something else—or, better yet, not thinking at all—I’m not remembering and feeling sad about her pegging out. I guess if my memory were better I wouldn’t forget that she’s not here and then have to remember it over and over and be suddenly sad over and over.
I know that Janice is fine, that her essence is ebullient and joyful. We shared that certainty, and that thought, no matter how certain, is nothing like having a real human right here for a long time and then gone. Her stuff is all over the place and there’s nobody to ask what ought to happen to it. I pick up a likely pile of apparently random papers and folders and want to ask Janice what to do with it and then all over again I have to remember she’s dead.
I’ve nearly finished with the paperwork of dying, toting around the death certificate or faxing it somewhere and signing here and initialing there and, “I’m sorry for your loss.” “Me too.”
The day before she died was the first time she was unresponsive to me. Her vitality had been diminishing for months, faster lately. She hadn’t said much for a couple of weeks, sometimes a word in my ear I could make out, no more.
Near the end I thought I could still tell what she wanted. She had no words and didn’t need them. Sometimes I think maybe I was fooling myself at the end, and she was miserable and a captive to my incompetence. I don’t think that often, which is just as well.