“There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain”
I went to church the other day, alone. I don’t like going alone; there are places where alone doesn’t work very well for me, where being alone, feeling alone keeps me from understanding, keeps me from embracing the moments.
I sat with good friends, listened to a good friend preach eloquently and was reminded of the good Marty and I, together, had found in that place. She would have loved talking about Jimmie’s sermon and how he called for us to tear down the barriers of our faith, not erect new ones.
There are places I remember, there are things I do that remind me of our loss, that bring home the absence of my other mind. Attending our church, a solo visit with our children and grandchildren, or laying in our bedroom in the silence of a deep dark night, all conjure memories of times past, conversations that stretched my consciousness; moments, good and bad with the one person who has been with me the longest and knows me the best.
When you have shared so much of your life with one other person it’s hard not to want to continue sharing, it’s hard not to be in situations and think, “Where’s Marty, she would love this,” “What would she think about this,” or even, “Where’s Marty, she would really hate this.” That partner, that other person becomes part of your DNA and the catalyst to so many thoughts and ideas.
I went to Las Vegas last year, alone, thinking it would be great to be away and on my own for a while. It was great to get away and feel a change in routine and I enjoyed part of it, but I slowly became painfully aware of my own loneness, my own sense of empty. While I was there I gambled, I watched the people, I rested, but there was no one to share the moments with, no one to hear my snide, smart-ass remarks, no one to retort with that since of familiar family righteousness.
It’s not just the places. It’s the actions, it’s the memories of actions past, it’s the feeling that you are doing something you should be sharing with someone else, it’s the understanding that by sharing a moment with someone else it will enrich it for you.
I have spent so much of my life experiencing life with another that now, when seminal moments present themselves, it’s like seeing them through a cloudy window, and I can’t appreciate the intensity of the colors or the shapes. I feel like I’m processing the events without using both sides of the brain. Marty and I weren’t a perfect match, she was the yin to my yang and it made us whole.
It took years and multiple personality inventories administered by my psychologist wife for me to figure out that I really am an extrovert, that I do best processing life with other people. I wanted to be dark, brooding and thoughtful; I wanted to see myself as careful and circumspect in my mental processing and communication. What I really am is a person who requires another mind beside him, bouncing off thoughts, comments and ideas. I think best out loud, I understand best in the company of others, I live better when I appreciate life with someone appreciating moments with me.
Marty and I go to the movies once a week, I love movies, it’s an outing for her, and it’s something we have always done. We go Wednesdays, early afternoon, it’s positively decadent. We go then to avoid any crowds in case Marty is humming particularly loud that day.
Marty and I used to talk about what we had just seen while driving home. I loved her brain, her perspective on the film, her understanding of the nuance. I miss that conversation, I miss that wit, I miss that to-and-fro banter that challenges my senses. It’s clear now that she made me smarter because I can’t see the depth of anything without her pushing the conversation.
When I wax on about Marty and I have lost it always feels a bit like a pit party and I always feel compelled to say I know we are blessed. I always feel a need to reassure everyone that I recognize the grace Marty and I have found as a result of her illness and how fortunate we are to still be able to go to a movie together.
All of that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I often live my life today with half of a brain, missing that part that challenged me, missing that part that made me smarter and missing the half that helped me see things more clearly. Recognizing the good fortune of a continued life together doesn’t change the fact that I miss a part of our life that will never be again.
I can recognize our luck and mourn our fate at the same time; I don’t think that’s self-pity.