When you are young, and you say you will love someone forever, you have no idea what that means.
You never imagine that this beautiful fairy tale could ever end. Nothing could sever such a rare connection. You know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that people die, that people you love will die, and so will you, but your brain somersaults around logic, and you believe the rule does not apply to you, let alone the one you love. Love transcends all. Love makes all things possible.
So, with forever to look forward to, you build a home, you make a family, you share bank accounts. You fight, and you forget each other because you have all the time in the world. You never stop to consider the pain one of you will feel when one of you will leave this world and the other behind. You realize what you’ve wasted only after it’s too late.
After 31 years on this planet, and 14 years with the girl of my dreams, it is sinking in, one day one of us will be alone. Forever isn’t quite forever, not the way I thought. Life seems so much shorter than it used to and even if I got 100 more years with her it wouldn’t feel like enough.
I am scared.
I often dream that I am roaming from room to room in our home calling her name and searching, but I can’t find her anywhere. Sometimes I dream that I am in choking and sobbing telling her story at her funeral. Sometimes I am calling to her from some kind of white afterlife where I am alone and afraid, but she can’t hear me. Sometimes I hear her calling to me, but I cannot get to her.
I suppose my mind is playing out a trauma I might one day experience. Somewhere inside I am working through what I think it will feel like to be torn from her.
I talk to her about my fears of course, because talking to her is the only way I know how to work things out in my mind. I tell her that I can’t stop worrying about her and that my heart hurts when I think about one of us dying before the other. She tells me not to worry about it. She tells me she will be fine. She tells me we have plenty of time before we need to worry.
I tell her she doesn’t know that.
I become obsessed, trying to work through what will happen to each of us when the other is gone.
I tell her that if I die she has to go live with someone, preferably with family. I know her, she is very private and will try to cope alone. Someone will have to make sure to gets enough sleep, eats enough food and doesn’t work too hard. Someone will have to do all the things I do for her now. Someone will have to stand up to her for her own good, but I don’t know anyone who can.
I tell her that if anything ever happened to me, I want her to date again and find someone who will love her and take care of her when she is ready. She says the same back to me. I feel relieved. At least neither of us will have to worry that the other wouldn’t approve.
I tell her that I am afraid if she dies first my heart and mind won’t be able to handle it. There is no way I will be able to stay in our home, or throw away her things, or go back to the job where we both have worked for so many years.
I am certain I will lose my mind. I am certain I will self-destruct in one way or another. I will be desperate to find her in the place we all go when we aren’t here anymore. I will be desperate to escape. I know I will not recover.
She tells me again and again, we have time, we are okay, she is okay, everything is okay.
I only become more anxious.
We bury the pain that comes with facing mortality in jokes that aren’t jokes at all.
We laugh about double suicides and imagine ways we might die together. What will happen to the house and the animals if we are both in a car accident, a plane crash, an earthquake, a bombing, anything! Dying together is the best case scenario, and these are our secret hopes.
One life without the other makes no sense. How could the world will go on spinning? How could people keep doing what they have always done? How can we wake up again in bed alone? This is impossible. This is insulting.
Laying in the bed, both of us staring at the ceiling through the dark she squeezes my hand and tells me this is how she would like to die.
It is sweet.
More and more often these thoughts come to me, and when I look at her, I want to cry.
She is so beautiful and so strong. She has shown me so much love and made my life something truly good. I am sad that such beautiful and rare things have to end. I am angry there is no way out or around the inevitable. I am angry she would be yanked from this world, and me, the one who loves her best.I am angry that I must go too. I don’t want to leave her lost and alone in this world.
I tell her I hope I die before her.
She doesn’t know what to say anymore.
I wonder if I am crazy. I wonder if I am the only one trying to cope with the future. She never seems to be as scared, but I do notice that, from time to time, she clings to me at night too after dreaming I was lost to her. She lays on my chest and cries because it felt too real. I pat her back and try to soothe her, but I don’t know how.
I say the only thing I can.
I tell her I am here, I am fine, and we have so much time before we have to worry about anything like that.
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Featured image you me