Six years on and all the physical traces of you are slowly but surely disappearing.
All the permanent stamps you thought you left on this world are now gone. I can no longer remember the sound of your voice or the way your laugh erupted into a cacophony, like a flock of kookaburras cackling in harmony, a birdsong of a laugh.
Today I logged onto you’re My Space page to revisit time immemorial, just like I always do when I’m missing you too much, or when the pain of grief becomes too overwhelming to ignore. Only today when I tried to bring up your profile, I realised that the new update had erased every word you’d left behind - everything was gone. All your poetry, all your music, your likes and dislikes, your pictures, and even your relationship status, which you’d pre-emptively and excitedly labelled as ‘married’ to me– all gone. Delete… Delete… Delete.
All the conversations we had on IM messenger have also since been erased, all sucked into the vortex of cyber space without warning - long gone, and now irretrievable. What was once a real time love affair across time and space, a testament to the way we existed for one another, now seems like something I made up, a whole world existing only in my head with the ghosts and the nightmares of your death, all tied up together in my memory.
Six years have come and gone since we were last together and the very last time that I saw your face, you were lying peacefully in a casket. Your eyes were closed, and your hands were clasped, and rested upon your chest, as though you were just quietly sleeping. ‘He’s just asleep’, I told myself, ‘pretend he is just asleep’.
And although I understood from a scientific point of view, the finality of the situation, although I knew objectively that you weren’t ever coming back, part of me still believed that our love was powerful enough to find a way to transcend the rules of death, and that if anyone could, you would find a way to return to me, unharmed.
Losing you was so completely and utterly unexpected that I lost myself in the process. It has taken me all this time just to grieve for the death of myself, to mourn the old ‘me’ who slipped through the cracks of that weatherboard deck at Roses Road, on that cold and fateful morning, where I lay wailing like a wild animal dying, never to return. Trying to wade through the enormity of your death has required all of my hidden resources. Every ounce of my energy has been depleted overtime, and the effort required to rejoin the land of the living, to push on, to keep up the appearance of a brave and happy face, has taken a huge toll on my mental health.
Where once I was strong, confident and resilient, now I am fragile, private, anxious and prone to bouts of overly emotional weeping, and my ability to cope with pain and stress has been fundamentally damaged. Put quite simply, I don’t have anything left.
Contrary to what some people think, grief is not simply limited to the outpouring of public display that happens in the beginning when friends and family rally around you. Nor is it resolved neatly after surpassing the cliched five-stage process and arriving at acceptance. That my friends, is bullshit. Grief is permanent and you have to wade through it every day for the rest of your life, and in private.
And while each anniversary has brought me a small step further on the road to metaphorical healing, in many ways it has felt more like a video game, whereby you go through unexpected hurdles, and fight battle after battle inside your mind just to inch ahead.
And even after six years worth of battles and hurdles, I have still not yet arrived at a place of acceptance and I don’t imagine that I ever will. There is no end in sight for me and I will never clock this video game. Because try as I might, and I have tried so hard, I just cannot get my head around the fundamental premise that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I fight, or how many levels or stages of grief I overcome, I will never, EVER get to the point where I can save you or win you back.
Even in my dreams I am still stumbling around lost, in a blur of unconscious confusion, looking for clues that will lead me to where you are hiding. But there are no clues, except for the ones I make up and even then, they all lead to nowhere.
In a funny way it still makes more sense to me that you have orchestrated an elaborate hoax than it does to imagine that you just vanished from the face of this earth. In all of my pain and my anguish, in all of my denial, plea-bargaining, anger and depression, I still cannot make sense of this loss or find a way to put it in perspective and reach a place of acceptance. To me, acceptance feels like a fucking betrayal and that just doesn’t sit right.
At some point in this long and arduous process, the line between imagining and reality has became so entangled and confused, that I have almost convinced myself that our love will still find a way to survive the event of your death, and in doing so, I have therefore rendered myself open to being deemed mad. But what was the alternative? To fixate on the reality of your death, to accept the death of us, of our love, was so emotionally devastating that I feared I would not survive it.
Imagining another scenario, albeit a departure from reality, has given me some kind of comfort, some semblance of hope. Granted it is entirely irrational and somewhat unhealthy to live in an imaginary place where you are just sitting around waiting for me, or alternatively, a place where I am already there with you. At my core I am a rational person, of zero faith in that which cannot be scientifically proven or reasoned beyond doubt, but in my heart I am just a human being who cannot push forward without hope, and for hope I am willing to sacrifice even that which matters to me most; reason, science and logic.
In all honesty, I don’t know anymore where normal begins or ends for me, because nothing about these last six-years has been normal. One moment we were making love and writing our wedding invitations and the next moment I was watching them lower your body into the ground. How does one make sense of that? How does one find a way to recover from such unimaginable cruelty, such a profound devastation, if not for the glimmer of hope?
If six years on, I can still feel your love all around me and sense your presence when I need you the most, then I will be gladly labelled mad or unfit if it means that in some parallel universe, (that science is yet to discover), you are alive and laughing, and I am not sad or grieving or lost anymore.