Jane, it’s been eight weeks since you died. Here I am addressing you as if you hadn’t at all. I’m sorry if you find this a little weird (I know you won’t) but I don’t know what else to do. You see, I am still in this relationship with you, even though for practical purposes, you no longer exist. I have no choice but to continue to relate to you as if you do.
I’ve been looking at these photos of you at the A & P show last year. And as I do, I know that you are the one for me. Maybe someone thinks I should be getting over you. From time to time, I do. I could be getting on with my life and work. I could be exploring a new relationship. How would I put it. Well, unfortunately I’m actually in a relationship already. But don’t worry, she’s dead.
Jane, there is so much that I still have to say to you and to do with you. Even just ordinary stuff, like hanging around home on weekends, going for a bike ride in the park (I think Elsie’s bike might have worked out pretty well for you, btw), stopping for a drink somewhere on the way home. Just passing the time together, with each other. Knowing that, whatever happened on a shapeless weekend day, we’d be together and at any moment could stop and simply delight in that. Going to the supermarket together. Using the stuff from the supermarket to make a nice little occasion meal together, even on the most ordinary day.
Talking about what’s happening in the world. The election. Online. I’ve been listening to interesting podcasts from blogher today. The naked blogging one is on what I am doing now. I discovered it’s called “identity blogging”. But you were strangely not that into women’s things. Or nakedness, in this sense of it. Perhaps it’s just me.
But that’s just it. We didn’t match each other. We were so different but we were equals. I’ve rolled this over and over. There were plenty of minor imbalances between us – and kind of border skirmishes where each of us resorted to tactics that did not involve our whole selves. But I think on the whole, I met my peer in you, Jane. And that mattered as we engaged each other constantly in our growing edges, stretching sometimes reluctantly and often with delight. I was settled in for the long term with you, Jane but not for a moment imagining how that would be. Knowing that we were just starting out on our learning paths together.
Some of my friends know that I had the odd concern about our relationship. We both knew that some of the hard moments were quite hard. I imagine though that your concerns were about like mine – there, and pronounced at times, but minor in the face of the nice times that we kept having.
I looked at your glass bowl on the shelf this evening, Jane. It’ s nice. It’s not a bowl tho, to me, it’s something that was liked and bought and placed by you – like so many other things in this house. Like the whole of this house, that I wake up and go to sleep in. Where I read the books that you read. Tread the steps around that you trod. Perform the routines of mine that intersected with yours and now those that don’t get performed by you. I put the bedroom and bathroom linen in the boxes that you labelled so clearly. But I can’t fit it in. It’s probably because I don’t iron it. Maybe I could iron it. Maybe if I did, it would not feel like a stupid wrong thing to have to be doing. Almost as if I shouldn’t have to be doing it – I do everything else around here, don’t I? No matter, how I did it tho, I wouldn’t do it the way you do, the way you did, Jane, you beautiful but dead Darling Jane.
I listened to an interview with Mirabai Starr yesterday. She translated “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross and then, while grieving the loss of her daughter, Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle”. The dark night of the soul is characterised by an emptiness within the self, she says. Not one of desolation and loss, tho it is born out of yearning, but an emptiness, filled somehow upon reaching its terrible depth by an unexpected union with divinity. She says that minor upsets like deaths and relationship break-ups aren’t the real thing. I agree with her. Though I feel moments of emptiness and loss alright, they are usually filled up quickly by you Jane, what remains of you in my life, anyway. When the pain of that becomes too much, I choose distraction. I am still clinging to denial. Unsettlingly, I think I still have the real emptiness to come.