I stare at the empty space beside me. In the early morning light, I dared to want to see his body and its arches. Instead, I see the imprint his body has left on the mattress. I run my hands through it like a child does to a scar, his absence even more blinding that it was when I first woke up. These valleys that once caressed his body and its arches now stare at me in disgust. Why did you let him leave? they ask. Wasn’t he good for us?
Why did I let him leave? Simple. Because he wanted to. I couldn’t make him stay, none of the things we have, none of the life we’ve made was good enough for him. I should be happy that I’m alive for another day but this feeling that’s crept up and stayed in my gut is anything but that. I resolve to make breakfast not because I want to eat but because I have to. It’s been almost a whole day since I last ate and so with all the energy I could muster, I head to the kitchen.
The wooden floor feels cold on my bare feet. My robe tickles the backs of my knees as I make my way through the stairs and into the kitchen. The fridge door feels heavy to the touch and like clockwork, my hand grabs two eggs. One egg, I remind myself. Not two. And just like that, all the strength I was faking crumbled. Winded, I sit on the kitchen floor. Why is this happening to me? From my view on the floor, I could not make him. The flowers were dead, the books and records segregated and distributed, these are just my things. None of our things are here.
Of my five senses, it was my nose that missed him most. I rush up to the bedroom and into the walk-in closet. I open his and see the shirts he left behind. I gather them up in a bunch, the hangers making rattling noises as I searched for his scent. I inhale deeply. He is here, they seem to say. All at once, fabric conditioner, hints of aftershave and cold memories fill my head. He is still here.
I take the last pair of shoes he left from the bottom drawer. I put them on and walk around the room. I walk to beat of the second hand, the clock reminding me that time has never once stood still. I listen to the sound my steps make. I wanted to hear his footsteps again, wanted to hear the shuffle his feet made on the carpet. Try as I may, I could not copy it. It was as unique as he was. Why do I feel so common?
There’s a voice in my head that has guided me all my life. Right now, it’s telling me to keep going, keep living as though none of this were real. Go on, it says and so while my whole body tells me to go back to bed, I crack the egg open into my waiting skillet. Like clockwork, I say to myself. Life should go on like clockwork. I empty the skillet onto a piece of toast and stare at the window. My mouth opens, the toast crunches as I chew, the salty egg stings my tongue. All this I observe as though I were alien to my body. I might as well be in the yard, staring from the outside.
Hunger filled and dishes cleared, I crawl back to bed like a snake. I clutch the sheets close to my heart and wonder what the day must be like for him. Wherever he is, does he know that I am here, feet stuck, wondering what to do with the hours that pass? They say time is cruel and from the tears I cry, it makes a raincoat. There really is much to do but right now, this is all I can manage. Tomorrow will be better, of that I am certain but at this moment, at this precise time, I only want to fill my head with thoughts of him.
Part 1 | 2 | 3
♫: Carla Bruni | Quelqu'un m'a dit (2003) | translation
Photo: The Persistence of Memory
*, mostly around the time I was still dishing out lessons and epiphanies in every post. He always said we learn something new every day and that the day you stop learning is the day they put you in the ground. Looks like that day finally came for him.
I will remember him for our yosi sessions, our long talks over beer and how he would always find something good to say about everybody, whether it be a new haircut, a new shirt or something related to work. He would force his trainees to visit my blog and whether they actually do or not, it’s nice to have someone who believes in you that much.
To the writer of Canned Thoughts. You taught me so many things. I’m sorry if I never got to thank you. Ride in peace, D. We’ll miss you forever. ♫