|Bokeh Blue (M.A Reilly, 2014)|
For the first time since Rob's death, I had a memory of him as he was prior to becoming ill. It was so fleeting, yet I could almost smell the way his neck often smelled. Warm. Flannel shirt warmed. I saw him laughing, head tilted, hair tied back, some strands escaping, falling down over a shoulder blade. His hair was still long, thick. His shoulders were wide and he was standing.
Mostly I remember Rob from the last few months of his life. This was such an emotional time for us. We were equally hopeful and terrified. It was early January, shortly after he had been megadosed with steroids. He had spent 9 days in the hospital, moving from intensive care to a surgical floor as he readied for spinal surgery. I was with him in the hospital room when he said to me, "I didn't even recognize myself this morning when I looked in the mirror." And this was true. The steroids had bloated and distorted his face so significantly that he didn't look like himself.
"You will," I told him. "All of this is temporary."
"I'm a stranger."
There are things said that take on new meaning as time passes. Meaning never holds still regardless of what we purport as truth. Meaning is always negotiated. I think of this, how the ideas related to the word, temporary, shift, get crowded, over populated.
C. S. Lewis's in A Grief Observed writes,
"If the dead are not in time, or not in our sort of time, is there any clear difference, when we speak of them, between was and is and will be?" (p. 24).
Often when I write, I wonder how I might speak about Rob. How might I characterize his death, his leaving, his not being here anymore? How shall I refer to him?
Is afterlife as simple as shifts in spacetime? Is death in some ways more of a question of physics than theology? Will I ever have answers?
None of this lofty talk matters on Friday afternoons when I still arrive home somewhat breathless in anticipation of the weekend with my two favorite guys. For nearly three decades, Friday's arrival signaled the start of extended time with Rob and for the last 17 years--extended time with Rob and Devon.
Now we are fractured.
And oddly. Whole. Yearning. Wanting.
The pulse of life beats regardless of my grief. I bought red geraniums this afternoon to put in bright blue pots. I passed the blooms and pots as I head out the door, into late April rain to walk. Since Rob died I have walked every day.
I have walked when he could not.
These days I walk mostly to live.