|The Atlantic, early morning|
During the first week Rob was back home after 50 days in the hospital, I continued to try to save his life. It wasn’t until the Hospice nurse gently reminded that I no longer needed to check his oxygen level, that I startled and then began to see how hopeless such an act was. There would soon come a time when my husband no longer breathed. I carry with me the knowledge that I could not save Rob from so early a death. I carry it imprinted on my bones like a too sad Braille reader who has lost faith in method. Great loss is a way of being in the world and so is the necessary healing. Loss and healing remain special knowledge that has translated into empathy for others.
At first the replay of Rob's death ran like a movie I could not turn off. Now I cannot recall the specifics of his death--not certainly with the clarity I once did. Then slowly memories of earlier times with Rob began to replace the scene of death. I can recall the first time I dreamt of him and not his death. In the dream we are in Scotland. It is just a second of Rob at the shoreline of a loch with his long hair tied back and it is moving as he laughs at something our child had said.
Now, five years later, the memories of the days leading up to his death are more lone photographs of scenes of darkened faces lit by a flash.
I want to tell you five years later that loss and healing are tidy matters, but they are not. Both inform how I live. Now what saddens me most is seeing all the life that has happened in these last five years and knowing Rob missed it all. I am now older than Rob. I have lived on this planet longer than he did or ever will. All of this makes me feel for each of the 520,000 people who have died this year from COVID 19 and their families.
"How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?" asks Yuval Noah Harari.
It is that simple and that complicated.