Some days you have retrograde reflections, instead of retrograde amnesia. Small insights of what things were back some other time. We always think of what it is like to live with another, knowing their thoughts, their faults, habits good and bad. Rarely do we look at what it is like to live with us; how it may have felt to the not-us.
For him, living with my writing mind must have been frustrating. He, a non-reader due to dyslexia, living with one who writes and writes and reads constantly. What must it have been like to one who stuttered for a long time, to be paired with a person with such a love of languages and words, piling them up for display, playing with them, offering them to him like sharing goodies? When he would get angry or frustrated he would stutter again and it embarrassed him. It mattered not. Reading aloud to him was no chore at all, for I love to read. He wanted me to make books on mp3, so that he could take my words with him when he traveled. We would often sit in the same house, me working, he not, and communicate via instant message. That was easy for him, easier than talking.
But most difficult of all must have been to come home from a long day at the office, full of people and play-acting, a bane to a misanthrope, to me; full of words and ideas sticking out of me like a thousand post-it notes on porcupine quills. Sharp, quick and digging deep. Always wanting to discuss things, to turn them over, to philosophize. And yet he would hug me, kiss me and tell me I had a beautiful mind. I hope I made him feel half of what he allowed me to feel for the first time in my life.
You may find me a little maudlin from time to time as his death anniversary looms. I ask your forgiveness in advance. His absence is now approaching a third of the time we spent together. Ours was not an easy life, but it was our life and we lived it the best we could. It is fitting that the very first vignette I ever wrote is about me thinking about the absence of his presence.
From behind the shrouded curtain of yesterday’s tear-mist, she looks out on the fields that radiate away from the sloping back porch, undulating like laundry on the line in a lazy breeze. The rain alternately pelts the face of the ground as if angered by its resistance, and then caresses it with gentleness – the whim of a weather tumult similar to the forces of love. Each brings growth forth from seemingly barren ground, because the seeds of life and love live under the surface, unseen. Both require the perfect combination and timing of all things required for breaking hardened ground – be it a wounded heart or the hardened crust of the earth.
She could spend all day here, peering through the intricate pattern of the screen door which she could see in great detail if she squinted just right and brought her peripheral vision into focus. Maybe she even closes one eye and wrinkles her nose. She loves smelling the clean, cool rainwater, sniffing the acrid wind after a lightning strike and feeling the rumble of the thunder as it comes up through her bare feet hugging the old wooden floor. How he loved storms! He often compared her to one in times past as they lay amongst the sheets, spent, like the clouds.
But stare as she might into the depths of the storm, she knew he wasn’t going to come striding up those crooked steps with that child-like grin and broken tooth today – or any other day. He was never coming home again. However, if she lingers there just a few moments more, she might once again imagine the laughter, the delight, and the joy where love once lived. As the storm passes over, now done with delivering its gifts, she turns back into the kitchen. She notices the raindrop that has somehow blown in through the screen, as it slides slowly down the side of the urn resting atop the bookcase. She smiles in remembrance, as a matching tear traces its own way down her face.