I remember you in stages, years shared in mental snapshots of my life. The book of all we knew is etched inside my chest for these things we treasure are not for mantelpieces, misery or gloom. You wanted absence without pain and I’d like to give it to you, but when she asks if I still miss you, my heart clouds faster than the moon – she never walked the other side with you, those paths of unrelenting rain.
My rock, my mirror, misery and fear, I held you higher than the sky – until it fell. Through the window of a hundred days before, we’d seen it coming and still, you wished it there. So, when it crashed, I threw you under, revealed the feelings I’d kept covered and released the pain I felt to echo yours.
I learnt then that mourning is a beat that has no jaunt, it comes as it will and there is no lull to ease it through. When it came for me, I had no clue. You wanted light so I laughed for you, but I found it easier to speak in epitaphs, poems laced with loss. I said:
I did not want to be you,
stuck in the frames of yesterday’s feature,
always reaching for the remote.
Those words were true, but I built a vacuum to trap out time and your heart stopped still. You were still there when I left you, but I was consumed.
That last day, there were no words: I held your hand and knew. Before the call came, I was ready. I had my shoes in my hand, my nerves wound tight. The wailing didn’t help. I wanted to draw out the world around you, keep you close.
When they say I took it well, I smile. How could they know that once the duties were over, I hid for weeks – losing myself in books and sheets of paper – in order to find the peace you’d always sought. When I knew you’d found it, I got back up and resolved to go on living. For me, this time, in the way you’d taught me to.
These days, they go to the lake. They light candles, watch the swans and cry. They think it strange that I haven’t returned, question why: I haven’t the heart to tell them. Instead, I think of the lightness, the laughter in your eyes and the shades of grey. At last, it’s as you wanted. The dark is past and you’re still here, closeted in love within my heart.