Slipping

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.

9 thoughts on “Slipping

  1. VCR’s and audio tapes deteriorate over time. It is not a bad idea to get a digital copy of them before the damage is done to them.

  2. Speaking of such things, does anyone know how to take a bunch of MS Outlook .pst files and translate them into some more universal format? All of Mike’s email messages are stored in this format, which requires me to have Outlook installed on my computer to read them (which I did end up having to reinstall on my computer last night). I am looking for a better way to make them something like an .rtf or .pdf or some sort of file, other than cutting and pasting them. I want to keep even the boring business mail because if you go through those, too, you can hear Mike’s voice in them and though I dont read them over and over again like I do the mail between him and me, I dont want to lose them either.The only person I know who has the ability to take a video tape and put it on CD is too personally involved with me to have him transfer the tape to DVD, so I would never ask him to do it (and I would refuse any offers he made to do it), especailly since the only way he knows how to make the transfer is to watch the tape while recording…I wonder if you can have this service done for you at Kinkos. I have thought about that, though. I just personally dont have the equipment or the desire to buy the equipment since I do this kind of thing so infrequently.

  3. Download the free version of CutePDF (http://www.cutepdf.com/) – this will let you “print” the emails to PDF files. Once you have the program installed, open the email and open the print dialogue box, and for your printer chose the “CutePDF Writer” option that should appear.As for transferring your wedding video, Jeff knows how to do that stuff and has the necessary equipment. Bring the video with you next time you’re at our place.

  4. Cry your heart out girl! A good cry never hurt anyone. Know that I support you on your journey.We often find ourselves wondering what could have been. It is only when we linger long periods in those thoughts and forget to live for today that we are at risk of our life passing us by. Even then, we always have the opportunity to wake up and begin again.By the way, I think it is one of the best things when a man writes his love for you–such assurance and expression. I am glad you experienced that with Mike and wish that for you again.

  5. Erin,I know. It’s not like his emails are gushing with expression; however, the simple little things he says exposes his feelings far more tenderly than even the greatest of gushing poets ever could. That’s what chokes me up when I read those emails… I can almost feel that warmness spread across my heart when I read them, like the first time I read the words and blushed because I knew he loved me. Every card he ever gave me was the same way–simple, but to the point, and utterly expressive of his heart’s intent.To say to me, “It’s only been 4 hours since we last spoke and I miss you already” is just the most beautiful thing someone could say to me. You can feel the strain of distance. Also, one of my favorite phrases from one of his emails is when he said that being on a different continent from me made him miss me more. When I finally did travel to Europe several years later–by myself–the words kept ringing in my ears and I thought about the wide ocean and several hours’ flight that separated me from everything familiar and everyone I loved… I realized what a poet he was in those simple words, but he would have never thought so.Man, and I just remember how passionate our greeting was when we came back together after all that time. It was like we hadnt seen each other for years. Young love is so funny and so charged. Like a hurricane hitting shore.It’s really hard not to reflect on a love that was like that. I guess I should just be content that I felt it once. If I never feel it like that again, then so be it. Though brief, it was the greatest love I’ve ever known. Maybe we’ll meet again in another life (for I thought once that in a past life we may have been lovers… it’s a romantic idea…)

  6. Marsgirl,I sense there is more in store for you. It may take time and more healing but when you are open to it, it will come. We do realize all things precious when we are far away from them, or if we lose them. And, when we return to them again, we are grateful. Funny how we can lose sight of that love in the every day. It takes discipline and real wisdom to not take folks for granted. But, I digress.Be easy on yourself- you’ve had a rough day. Maybe you can give yourself a gift somehow- a token of love for you. Just a thought.

  7. Heidi,You talk about feminism…”women being not so different from men”..do you notice that only women responded to this emotional blog?(except Frank DID give you a practical idea! Therefore, we know that at least ONE guy read it through)Just an observation.MOM

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