As I type Jesse is reading a comic book while spinning in our swivel chair, Ruthie is doing a math work sheet at the dining room table, and Andrew and Mary and chasing each other through the length of the house, tagging each other, screaming, laughing hard. Earlier this evening friends filled our house–my mom, the kids’ school friends and their moms, who I love dearly. There was noise and movement and laughter and wine. Many days and parts of days feel like this.
When my aunt died five years ago, I was stunned with grief. And I felt her spirit so close. I would make decisions as if she were watching me, wanting to please her. Her things in my house served as her ghosts and caused such a deep ache for so long.
I feel so different with Chris. His things around, which are everywhere and in and through and to all things, don’t shake me. I don’t feel his spirit near. I don’t imagine him watching me. Instead, I have felt so very distant from him. His healthy self, who I made a life with for all of these years, feels like a thing long passed. It’s hard to imagine him moving through our house, standing in the kitchen, sitting at the dinner table, working in his office, lying in our bed.
One of my friends suggested that maybe as more time passes between me and those intense and life-altering months in the hospital, more of Chris’s healthy presence will come closer to mind. I think she may be right. And her suggestion also affirms to me the otherness of that time. As I was walking through those months, even before Chris was admitted to the hospital, I was always finding the ways that we were still the same–the humor Chris and I shared, especially. His personality. But on the other side of it, I’ve reflected on how drastically different everything actually was: We were in a new place, on a different side of town; Chris’s body was changing in every possible way; medical problems were part of our every day conversations; Chris was suffering, which meant that the way we related to one another was so drastically different than it had ever been. Maybe this is why healthy Chris has been so hard to recall.
I believe that Chris is now with our Lord, our Creator. As he suffered at the end of his life and died, this belief brought real peace for his sake. On Sunday, the day before he died–the day I made him comfort care–I walked into his room and knew he was leaving this world. I set down my things and went straight to his ear. I don’t remember what all I said to him, but I do remember telling him to imagine it all–imagine where he was going, imagine the beauty of it and the freedom of it, imagine the joy of it. I was almost joyful in my anticipation for him.
Now, as I try to think about where Chris is, I mostly just feel so very divided from him. It’s impossible to know what it’s like where he is. If only I could picture it. Then I might not feel so separated from him. And so left behind. Chris is both so far back and so far forward, and both places are inaccessible to me.
I know I don’t really understand that Chris is gone. I haven’t seen him for over three weeks, but I don’t grasp that that time will not have an end date. I still sit down and think, What just happened? But I have a sense that there’s so much more coming. Like there’s a huge bubble full of water above me that is always threatening to break or will just slowly engulf me. How could it not be so? At some point I’m going to start believing this reality more than disbelieving it.
I will *try* not to think about how or when the waters will rush in. I know I wouldn’t be able to imagine it rightly. For today I’ll take the cushion that was given me–in my mind, in my heart, in my house.