I thought it would be terrible, the day I woke up in this house alone. Since the day that Jane died, the place has echoed with her memory. There was a yawning Jane-shaped gap. I imagined it ringing with deafening silence as I searched for her from room to room. Today was that day. The gap wasn’t in the house. It was inside me.
Most of the time, I have been able to move about the house ok. Sometimes, I can even glimpse at photos of Jane and keep moving. For some moments, life seemed as if it could go on something like as usual. I knew that Jane had made an impression deep inside me. I guess I managed to keep my distance from that, for a little while.
In the days when we lived in different cities, Jane used to talk about having a print of me on her body. It needed to be refreshed regularly. It was, as it turned out. As was the print of Jane on me.
Sleeping in our, well my bed has not been the horror that it might have been. It has been something of a sanctuary. Though it was a shared place, our most intimately shared place, it is also my place to rest and sleep. When I have not slept, I have found both solace and misery for myself in reading, writhing, and picking over infinite ideas and images of my life, past, present, future, real, dreamed and fantasy.
When I first put my hand across Jane’s dead body, I gave her a bit of a shove to try to get a reaction. Her body resisted my shove with inertia and gravity. Nothing else. It had no muscle tone. I have played a game, many times, in Playback workshops led by Simon. You work in pairs. One relaxes, acts floppy, while the other manipulates their body, extending it gently at first and then getting experimental, playfully animating it. Of course I have experienced Jane’s sleeping body. And others’. That morning, I instantly realised that Jane’s body was responding in a different way. It was floppy like I haven’t felt a body being before. Except, having been reminded of this by Rob Brodie, when I have carried the freshly dead bodies of dogs.
My sense of Jane as a sexual lover drained away at that moment. As a person in my life, I don’t think Jane has since felt as fresh as she did then. But my warm bedmate, who I could snuggle up with, and who could snuggle up with me; my lover, with whom I shared the trusting closeness, vulnerability and animal indulgences of lovemaking, was gone in an instant.
Almost immediately, I began to crave close physical contact with a woman. But not Jane. The night part of my craving was sexual, but the day part was was just physical. For either, though, my memory of Jane’s body, dead, was too fresh to connect with my longing. That part of our relationship was severed instantly.
Today, when I woke and noticed where I was, I felt the shock that my memories of Jane are not in the spaces around me but right inside me. That print of Jane does not need to be refreshed. It is vivid. It is in the impulse of my limbs away from my body in bed, it is behind my eyes as I look at the blank painted surfaces of our bedroom. It is in my gaping heart as I want to show Jane that I swept the garage and bought a new rubber doormat so we don’t bring crap in from it when it gets unswept again.
And I hold, somehow inside me, the knowing of Jane as my lover with the knowing of her lifeless body. I want to honour Jane as the one I am longing for and hold that with my horror of her dead. To somehow be with that so that something new can come.