It is more real today. Mark is gone. Family and friends – my children – I am surrounded by good people. But I am half of a broken set. Solitude is bliss; I thrive there. This alone, this is a different place. It’s bottomless. Roomy. Cavernous. I might be sitting at a table with friends and be engaged, talking, laughing – but nearby there’s a shadow person who knows that at the end of this night, I’m alone.
Who goes, who stays? Mark is gone. But what about his wife, the person that I was with him? What of her died with him, and what remains?
The song “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie kept haunting me during the darkest months of Mark’s illness. I couldn’t count for you the number of times that I’d be driving home from the hospital and the song would be on the radio. Of course, I’d cry. It’s a beautiful song. And I get it now, what it means. Or maybe it’s just taken on a new meaning.
Every year after the first roses bloom, I dead-head the stems so more flowers will grow. It works to keep us in roses a while longer. And every year, I cut back the lantana, and it dies. No matter how long or how short I cut it back, the lantana always dies.
Which is me? Is either one me? Who will I be when the bloom of grief is gone? Will I be this alone for the rest of my life? “And when my soul embarks,” what about then, what will remain of me?