“Question.” A co-worker says.
Okay, I say.
“Are you ready to date yet?”
IT’S ONLY BEEN ELEVEN MONTHS, I want to blurt out. Not angry but surprised at how emphatically I feel this. No, I just say no, I’m not ready. He nods. He’s not asking for himself. I don’t know whether he’s asking on someone else’s behalf. I don’t want to know. We move on to other subjects.
Ironically, during a rough period a couple of months ago, I thought I was ready to have someone in my life. Then I got close enough to being close enough to really considering it, and just that much, just the thought, triggered an emotional fall-out so severe that I wondered if I’d have to be hospitalized to get back to my feet.
Last night, I was out with friends, dancing and laughing. The merry widow. I felt a little ashamed and guilty and wondered if people were saying “It’s only been eleven months,” but I danced anyway. Later, it didn’t take much introspection to recall that at this same event last year, I wasn’t dancing or laughing but was feeling guilty at feeling so relieved to have a night out of the hospital room.
The loss of love, the loss of person, the loss of Sunday mornings spent talking in bed, the loss of so much taken for granted, the luxury of being with him, even in a hospital bed, even there.
It is immense, the absence of Mark, and it is all I have of him right now.
I can tell myself that he would want me to enjoy life, all of it. I can remember very clearly when he told me that he wanted me to be free.
I am not ready. Maybe, some day. Not today.