It’s been 812 days since I last kissed my angel. After she was diagnosed, we were lucky to live life large for 850 days. Like so many other difficult things (dealing with chemo treatments, watching her deteriorate over time, holding her that day, her death, living without her), it is so hard to get my head around how much time has passed; it’s been nearly as many days as I’ve coped with It happening as days we coped with It coming, denial and all.
The start of this journey, just before January 5, 2007 (the day she was diagnosed) can be compared to the intro of a Michael Bay action movie with a slow-motion, stop-action film capture of an explosion:
Frame 1 (very early December 2006): A little flash.
Frame 2 (early December): Hmmm... That little flash is getting bigger.
Frame 3 (mid December): That’s no spark. It’s a FIRE!
Frame 4 (late December): Oh my gosh! Something is very wrong!
Frame 5 (very late December): WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??
Frame 6 (January 5, 2007): OH MY GOD!
The next weeks were absolute misery. But after the shock and after the surgery and after the first chemo treatment (which thankfully started working immediately), things started to get better. She was stronger. She wasn’t in the hospital. She wasn’t dead. We were still together. I won’t call it Nirvana but I’ll sure call it a time that we were both very, very happy to be together. Maybe it was borrowed time. But nonetheless, things got a lot better compared to the first few opening frames of the movie. And that was how it all started: with a bang that just about knocked us down and broke us. Then we began rebuilding.
Little did we know that we didn’t just survive some big explosion. No. What we really had done is survive one wall of the hurricane. And for a good long while, we lived, love and played innocently inside the eye of that hurricane. The weather there was nice and the company was wonderful. I wish we could have stayed there forever. Then the other wall of that hurricane hit us and hit us hard. It was relentless until…. Well, you know how that ended.
The day It happened I was numb and tired and had nothing to give other than just give up. The waves of the hurricane had bashed me about and beaten me into passivity. I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I was numb. Even physical pain didn’t hurt any more. I just didn’t care. What could life possibly throw at me that even compared to the pain that I was feeling? I wished I could sink into the ocean and just dissolve.
Somehow unnoticed, time passed. Months, even. When I came to, I found myself lying on some floating debris, one arm holding on while my body dangled into the still thrashing ocean. I was tired, dazed, angry, sad, and still didn’t care if I lived or died. At best I was conscious only part of the time. Days and nights smeared together while wave after wave of salty, cold water stung my eyes, choked me and threatened to dislodge me from my float. I didn't fight. Why should I? My love was gone. What reason was there to live?
More time passed. Months, even. Eventually I found myself floating near a beach, neck deep in water and feet dragging on the bottom. I was sore, covered in deep wounds, emaciated, and confused. Waves still pushed and pulled me up and down, forward and back while I choked on the briny water. My body was numb but my eyes were clearer now; I could see what looked like a shore. Despite being tossed about, I put one foot down flat against the sand and pushed. I took my first step. Then I fell.
But my first step turned into my second. And my second into my third. Every other step was a trip or a slip back into the cold water. Coral sliced my feet. Waves choked my breathing and stung my eyes. But I kept putting my feet down, one after another, and pushing, while still holding onto that debris to keep me afloat. As I stepped, the water became not neck deep but chest deep. The coral still sliced my feet almost every step. And the shore slowly inched closer. But I still fell often. I was exhausted.
Today, 812 days after It happened, I’m lying on a sand bar alone covered in bruises with bleeding feet looking out at the horizon and the waves wondering what the hell just happened. I remember it all but it seems like a dream. I’m thirsty and hungry. I hurt so much but nothing’s broken. I’m scared and confused. I still don’t care if I live or die. I have no idea where I’m at or how the hell I’m going to get back to… back where? Back to where? Where is home now? For the last 812 days, my life has been the ocean, the waves, the sand and that very, very special piece of debris I clinged to which saved my life. Where is home now? Even if I knew where and even if I made it there, she wouldn’t be there. So I sit here on this sand bar, alone, wondering, what do I do now.