We believed (of course) in full faith that he'd turn 40. We had no reason not to. And yet, he is gone and will never be older than 38.
This is so unbelievable to me that I can't make it fit in any compartment in my brain. It sort of hovers there above it all, unable to click fully into place, like a puzzle piece that almost but not quite fits in an empty space.
On Wednesday night I stared for a solid hour at his face in picture after picture.
I tried to will his picture to come alive. I suddenly (for the first time) needed to see video of him. Previously the idea of seeing videos of him made me feel seconds away from a full meltdown. It terrified me.
But on the eve of his birthday, I felt almost as though I needed concrete proof that I didn't make him up in my mind. Sadly, I don't have a single video with him in it. I have video he took of the Colosseum in Rome, but he didn't even talk. I have a video he took of me when he did talk but I can't figure out where it is.
I realized, with a sudden stab of pure remorse that we didn't take enough pictures or videos. Why didn't we?
The time I spent staring at his pictures felt holy. I stared at his face with fresh eyes. His deep, dark brown eyes and handsome beard, his smirk, his incredibly perfect white teeth, the smile I believe he reserved for me alone.
I tried to turn the images into a three dimensional memory. I tried to smell him and feel the texture of his arm once again, run my fingers through his hair. It was beyond frustrating and I cried myself to sleep.
The day of his birthday I felt numb or distant or on auto-pilot, or a mixture of the three. I had some things I needed to do and I did them, staying relatively alert and present, but when I got home, there were 20 facebook notifications and they were full of bad news. So much sadness had descended on several people I love all on the day Dave should have turned 40 but is instead ashes in a box. The tidal wave of sadness crested and I finally lost it.
So much pain, and why? I don't believe in a merciful universe or god. I suppose there might be a greater power I can't fully understand, but it's not merciful. It's not evenly doling out the pain.
There's no reason behind any of it, only the chance to dig yourself out of the pits of despair and find something to get up for. It's finding silver linings and not shutting down completely, but how much can a person take, I wonder? And are we sometimes fooling ourselves with our silver linings and positivity?
I am so furious that there has to be so many broken hearts. I'm so tired of pain, my own and others'. I'm working so damn hard to remain hopeful but I'm also going to give myself a break for feeling hopeless, or deliriously angry, or brokenhearted and I'm not trying to push the feelings away, but god dammit this is hard. It's scary to feel the hope for better things slip away even temporarily.
I keep thinking of the videos of Dave I could be looking at now, if we had thought to make them. It reminds me to continue to try not to take for granted what I'm lucky enough to have now. I don't care if I'm filming my cat purring on my lap or my friend talking to me from across the couch. I'm making a record of the people and furballs I adore and I'm going to remember how incredibly lucky I am to have them at all.
What else can we do, really, when the truth is, nothing lives forever and nothing stays the same?
Isn't that the lesson death teaches us? Cherish when you can. Don't be afraid to love just because your heart will be broken if you do.
Makes me think of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote...
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Read, breathe, repeat.