Last night, I decided to listen to the audio tape of my wedding. I know, it’s self-inflicted torture. But, I don’t know, I spend a lot of my time holding back my feelings–for myself, for others–and I felt like I needed to face the emotional garbage and allow myself to cry for once. It’s probably healthy to do this; it seems really unhealthy to me for people to force me to avoid the thoughts and memories. I’ve been doing that too much lately in trying to convince myself that I’m always all right. For the most part, I am all right. But. I’m a widow; yesterday was my anniversary; I’m allowed to think about that day and reflect, even if it hurts. I have to give myself permission to do this. And I have to shut out the voices that tell me to just “move on.” I have moved on. But Mike, like it or not, is a part of who I am today and his death shaped what I’ve become.
As you can see, I spent a lot of the evening going through his saved sent and received email files. There’s not a lot of them, and most of what is there I know of. A lot of it is boring business mail between him and his coworkers. He was the manager of his department and he was apparently saving email for reference purposes, but he also saved some of our correspondance (since most of the time I sent email to him through his work account since he was out of town for work a lot).
Even though I knew what was in those messages, I had to look at them again. They touch my heart to read because I can hear in them his voice. They remind me of the clever, intelligent, and witty man I was married to. Maybe you don’t see that yourselves in the email, but since I was a part of the correspondance, I can read all of the extra information in between the lines. The things he says are all references to a big “database” of knowledge and events we shared between us. No one on the outside can quite fully get what they are all about because they weren’t part of the Mike-Mars Girl duo. I’ve never had such a tight link with any other human being. Which is probably why I remain unmarried to this day.
As I listened to our wedding ceremony (my VCR is broken so I couldn’t watch the wedding video), I cried of course. What a moment in history that was. Everyone was joyous. You can hear me laughing (unfortunately, my laugh sounds like a machine gun); my godson, the ring-bearer, crying and occasionally screaming; chairs moving; people shuffling and reacting to the service. My wedding comes alive to me again in those moments.
E., Mike’s father, gave a speech as part of the ceremony, a sort of “homily” if you could call it that in a completely secular ceremony. It was lively and entertaining. He spoke of love and his love for his son, and his love for his new daughter-in-law, which made me cry harder because I know now how false that statement was. Maybe he meant it at the moment, but no one then knew what the future held and how in twenty short months, we’d all find ourselves staring into a casket at waxy figure that once shined with life. Our connection to each other fell apart as Mike slipped away from us.
I think Mike shielded me from the dysfunction of his family. Without him there to mask it all, I saw their true faces. Maybe they saw my true face too. I won’t say that I’m completely innocent of any wrong-doing. We all thought we were right. How we reacted to the situation defined what we became. And now the bond between us is no more. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way when a spouse dies and there are no children to connect you to each other. I don’t know. It seems awfully flimsy. Love to me is supposed to be stronger than anything. It’s obviously stronger than death because my love for Mike has not died. It just changed.
But when I listen to the wedding, I can forget all of the present circumstances. I can look through the mists of time and see everything there as it was. That wedding was the precipice of a promised future. I can still see it, down below, even though its obscured by the mists of time–the sun rising over the endless water, illuminating everything in my world and touching me with its warming rays. I was supposed to march onward into the adventure of living a life with a man I cared deeply about. Maybe have some kids (probably would have had some kids). What would my life look like now, nine years later, if he hadn’t died?
It’s a useless question, I know, and people will email me and try to tell me how stupid it is to wonder about a present in a timeline that did not occur, and they will caution me to “live in the now.” I don’t care. Yesterday, all day, I couldn’t help but wonder where I’d be and what I’d be doing now if Mike had not died. I wondered how long into my thirties it would have been before Mike would have persuaded me to have kids. Perhaps–probably, in fact–I’d have one now (Sabina or Korbin). I recoil at the thought of kids now, but this is the 2008 post-Mike’s death Mars Girl. What would Fritzy have done? Fritzy’s heart was more open than Mars Girl’s is. I’m sure I would have kept to my pact of not having children until I was 30, but I know that the day I turned 30, Mike would again have begun his campaign for children and Fritzy would have probably gladly said okay. Not because she felt pressured or conned, but because Fritzy would have had her alone time with Misha, would have traveled as they planned to do, and would be ready to have kids. And Fritzy didn’t know what it was like to lose someone she loved so deeply so she would not fear bringing life into this world that she would love as deeply in a different way. Fritzy wouldn’t know how to fear the kind of losses to such strong attachments.
I would ultimately still be me. But I am sure Fritzy’s 2008 would look a lot different than the Mars Girl’s 2008. And it’s kind of sad. I think maybe I would feel more fulfilled, less angry, less jaded. I know that it doesn’t have to be that way even considering the current circumstances. I know I’m doing great for myself career-wise and emotionally. I made the best of a nasty situation and I can’t spend this much time looking at the past. Every now and then, though, I can’t help but do it. And I cannot lie that the thought of having little Misha-Fritzy’s running around is very attractive. A child of Mike’s would have been such a treat to raise.
I don’t talk to my in-laws anymore. I wonder if they are haunted by August 28th each time it comes around. I wonder if they dig out an old photograph from the wedding and reflect silently all the promise that day held. I wonder if they think about the grandchildren they might have had or just take a moment to remember the son/brother they lost. For me, I feel all alone in my thoughts. Am I the only one who makes a big deal out of this day? Am I the only one stuck on the past every August 28, finding myself thinking desperately of the person who filled my life up with such light for such a short time?
I can’t help but think that the day at least invokes a two-second thought with anyone who took part in the event. Lost son, brother, husband, friend. Who could forget the day this man seemed his happiest? Or do my in-laws think, “This is the day Mike married that bitch.” Does his mom still blame me for his death, saying that I let Mike die so that I could have all his money and the insurance payback (which, my friends, did not launch me into the status of the rich in any way, shape, or form)?
After listening to the tape, which I listened to in a dark room with a purple candle lit, I sat in the darkness and cried prayer-like words to Mike. I told him I was sorry for anything I’d ever done wrong, admitting I’d have done a better job as a wife had I known–really appreciated–how precious life is. I told him missed him. I asked his forgiveness for crying like that over him since I knew he wanted me to be strong. I told him I couldn’t help it, that sometimes the missing him got the better of me and I needed to let it out. I told him that he was the best thing that ever happened to me. I told him that I wished I could start it all over again just to get it right.
Nicki jumped on my lap, which is nothing unusual. She always jumps in my lap. She started to purr and I told Mike that Nicki and Cleo missed him too. And I said that I was glad that Tanya was back at his side.
I pretty much stopped when I couldn’t come up with anything else to say that didn’t repeat what I’d already said. I kept hoping for a sign or something. Alas, nothing again. Stil, it felt good to purge if that was the only purpose for the words. A thought entered my mind: What if there really is nothing and he’s completely gone?
The old atheist in me stirred. My fear invaded everything and I sat in the darkness contemplating the end of lifelines. If this is truly the only life I will ever get, then I must protect it fiercely, I thought. And my thoughts drifted further into contemplating what it meant to my life–to Mike’s life–if he had just died and then there was no further consciousness. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Am I, I wondered, sitting here entertaining myself with the thought that he could hear me–effectively lying to myself for comfort?
As a shadow of doubt fell across me, I understood fully the true tragedy of Mike’s death. I have not thought about it in these terms for months. What a complete and utter waste. How can life be so cruel? Here is a man who managed to propel himself through a tumultuous childhood, worked vigorously to achieve a successful career, find and marry the type of woman he was looking for, only to die at the raw age of 32. I’m now one year older than he was. Technically, I’m now his senior. I’ve got one extra year of breathing than he had. How fair is that?
It’s easier to deal with his death if I think of it merely as a separation between states of being–that I’m here in the physical world and he’s out there somewhere in the spiritual world. But what if my interpretation of everything is so utterly false? I’ve lied to myself in the last year in order to get some sanity back and to cope. But I don’t know the truth in anything. I’m merely hoping and guessing and hoping some more. Faith is always hard for me. And, last night, and still today, it has slipped through my fingers. I’m left with a feeling of nothing, a feeling I’m more familiar with, having lived half my life as a staunch atheist.
But even as an atheist, I have never contemplated the reality of the devastation so fully as I did in that moment last night, panicking about the frailties of human life and my own immient death. When you are stuck in this mindset, it’s all too tempting to want to scream, “I don’t want to die!!” Somewhere amidst that primal yell, you begin to see that life is completely meaningless, except for what you make of your own existence. This in and of itself is not bad. It just makes me want to withdraw into myself and keep relationships of any kind from permeating too deeply into my skin. Who wants to take the time to get so emotionally involved when you risk losing it all so abruptly, which results in the kind of pain I was feeling last night?
(Yes, I know that’s the big gamble in the game of life. I’m just telling it how I felt it.)
As the hour slipped away, I realized how empty the universe is if everyone I knew who had died were forever lost. All that potential and character and intelligence exited their bodies in the last exhale, never to be seen or heard again. All of that knowledge wasted, all of that thought gone, all of the trace of their existence left only on the memories of those still living–which itself only lasts as long as the last one to know them himself dies. What an empty, cold, and dark universe existence becomes. Like talking in from within the pit of some rocky cavern. “Hello? Hello? Is anyone else there?” only to be answered by your own lonely, scared, cowering echo. I am truly alone.
Somewhere last night, I slipped into the cavern of uncertainty and I haven’t found my way out yet. Faith is hard, especially when you have so little to start with. I guess I live on hope because one can always hope without pretending to know or even deluding yourself that you know. In a moment of grief, when you’re still looking for conclusive proof of something, it’s hard to have faith or hope. And that’s where I’m at today… looking for a flash light and the path back into the full light of day. Some days it’s harder than others.
I just wish I knew the answers for sure. I just wish I could know that when I die, I’d see Mike waiting for me at the end of a tunnel and we’d be together again at last.