It hurts. It burns. My life without you. It's wrong. It's disconnected. It's gray. It's not like the picture I had in my head. Today I burn with the pain of your absence. Today I look for any reminder at all that you were here. That I did indeed touch you and hold you, that I laughed with you and felt the weight of your body in my arms.
I don't understand who I've become sometimes. When you were here I knew who I was. I knew my role. I recognized my emotions and my reactions to every day life. That woman made sense to me. She believed the things I understood to be true. She reacted to certain situations in a way that is recognizable to other humans. This new woman, this mother without her child is so very different. She looks different to everyone, but how can she look so different to me? She IS me. And yet...she can't be.
I'm not the same mother. I'm not the same nurse. I'm not the same friend. I can't be where others are in certain situations. My responses to "tragedy" and "death" do not match the faces of those around me. My feelings about prayer don't quite make sense to most. I don't know how to fit. I couldn't even if I tried.
The day you left, I should have gone with you. And that scares most people. They don't understand that fully. "You have so much to live for here." "But we would miss you." "What about your other children?" They don't understand me. But I don't understand them. It's not a desire to die. It's a desire to be somewhere that I understand. When you die, you aren't supposed to be here anymore. And yet, I am. I'm still breathing. I don't always understand how that's possible. I remember my breath stopping, my heart stopping. I remember that moment with more clarity than any I've experienced before or since. And my nurse brain says that that moment should have been it.
But then there was that next moment. The one that I heard myself breathe again. I hated that breath. I despised that next heartbeat with every fiber of my being. At times, I still do. It beats differently now. I can hear the reluctance in its efforts sometimes.
I don't understand the days that are functional. I feel like I'm pretending until I can get back to you. And yet, some parts are so genuine that I feel immense guilt at my ability to truly enjoy a moment, no matter how brief, without you here.
Even this moment, full of painful rambling is an attempt to be closer to you. To connect with the incredible pain that makes me KNOW that you were here, that you were, are, and always will be a part of me. The most painful, the most beautiful, the most real part of me that I will experience in this particular lifetime. Some days I want to wear a sign around my neck that says, "I may look functional, but I'm broken. Please don't forget the broken part of me. Please love that part too." It's my favorite part most days, actually because it's the one I understand. When no one else can understand me without you, I can connect to my own brokenness and feel you.
Until I see you again, I am reduced to pictures and videos. You are here physically only via superhero momentos, the clothes still hanging in your closet, and the handprints that I can only trace with a longing finger. That's not enough, and yet it has to be.
I have no beautiful way to wrap up such rambling, because this feeling continues far beyond these few paragraphs. These words will come to an end. The rambling will appear to stop for the moment. But in reality, the hurt and the confusion will continue to beat in time with my reluctant heart.