The middle of the night is where I feel your void most intensely. I attempt to busy my brain with other less painful activities. I lay in our nightlight lit room listening to the drippy wet sounds of the aquarium down the hall, the monotonous whirr of the bathroom fan left on, the refrigerator starting up yet again. I attempt to make a mental list of activities that I'd like to do with the kids. A registry of people not yet called, thanked or contacted. A calendar of events that are upcoming.
But no matter what asinine or tedious thought temporarily enters my searching mind, it is constantly forced aside by thoughts of you.
I replay my walk down the aisle of the church...both on the day of our wedding and the day of your funeral. Both times, you waited for me near the altar.
On the day of our wedding, as I walked down that strip of red carpet, we smiled at each other, felt comfort in each other's presence and became the only two in the church. The day of your funeral, I clutched Liv's small hand and held Briar's little body close on my hip. I walked that same carpet with nervousness again, but this time not with nervous excitement. This time, it was terror and loss.
Although the tranquilizers administered to me by the doctor allowed me to stare out from my body with my mouth silent and closed, with my head erect, I felt far from 'tranquil'.
I saw the same faces staring at me from the front of the church as I saw on our wedding day. Their swollen and tear streaked faces a constant reminder of why we were there. But you were missing.
I saw your coffin. You were always the biggest in the room, the centre of attention, the one I looked to when unsure. Now you were a box. A big, wooden box. Liv asked if 'you' were in there. She thought she could hear your snoring. While I smiled at her, I could only imagine you, your shell, laying there, oblivious to the events that were taking place. Completely unknowing that today would be the last day that your body and mine shared the same space. Ignorant of the pain that all of us within that church felt without you there to sing out your laughter, grin your famous smile, make some completely ridiculous joke or tell a far-fetched story.
Without you, without your presence, I felt lost. Adrift. Vulnerable. I still do. I long to hear you. But I shy away from listening to your still recorded answering machine messages. I wish I could feel the comfort of my hand enveloped by yours. But the thought of it reminds me that I will never feel them again no matter how I can remember the shape and the feeling of your immense hand. The touch of your mouth. The softness of your earlobe. The shape of your knees.
On our wedding day, there were the sorts of issues that cause stress at all marriage ceremonies. Seating. Flowers. It was...interesting. But you were there. You would NOT let anything ruin our day. And we were together. That was all that mattered. We were together. The day signified our 'togetherness'.
Your funeral conveyed the separation of you from all of us left behind. A ceremony to let all of us know that we would never again walk with you, work with you, laugh with you, hold you.
As I followed you from the church once again, I had tears of loss and fear slipping over my cheeks marking my coat with wet dots. Gone were the tears of laughter and joy that we shared the day we married.
Liv, our little daughter, was with us both days. And this one fact reminds me of what I still need to live for. If only it is to see both of our little ones grown and happy, I must keep breathing until I can see you again. So I lay in this bed and listen to the appliances that surround me. I stare at the box beside our bed that contains your ashes in the orange glow of the nightlight and I miss you. God, how I miss you. And I wish only that first ceremony had happened. The second should not have happened....not yet.