Our two littlest girls and their dog drove away a few hours ago, in Scott’s beloved Tundra with Alli and Jake. I watched the tail lights grow smaller and smaller, as they descended the hill, and it seemed I was watching the feathered seeds of a spent dandelion dispersing the pieces of my life in a million different directions. I clung to Alli; I tried to control the tears, but I clutched her tightly, trying to hold onto a time already spent. When I walked back into the townhouse, I felt I had given away, or had taken away, all that I knew of my life. I no longer felt like I was an actual mom, I was not a wife, I was not even a medical provider. I was…nothing. The recognition of the loss of purpose and meaning was profound. There were no tears; only the most hollow sense of vacancy, like an apartment where the residents had moved out, its rooms echoic and forlorn.
I sat for a long time thinking and feeling nothing until I noticed the room had become dark and the dogs were whining to go outside. I was shocked to recognize that just standing up took herculean effort. I didn’t bother turning on the lights, but stumbled my way over items not yet put away, to the door. I think I stood there at the door for who knows how long, until the dogs returned, and then I still stood there after letting them in, still thinking and feeling nothing. Finally I wandered into the bedroom. curled up fetally on the bed, pulling the blanket up around me, and fell into a troubled, fitful sleep. I knew I needed to pull myself up out of this and do the work I needed to do. I just couldn’t seem to make myself do it. My hands and feet seem to be made of lead, and my head, of cement. Worthless and inept for even the most mundane of things, I wander aimlessly around this beautiful place, my eyes seeing the majestic beauty of the mountains and lake but unable to drink it in, senses dulled to everything around me.
I think this is the third day, and still, I am encumbered beneath a heavy blanket of despair; its ugly, arms like tree branches in a haunted forest hold me tightly in its merciless embrace. I barely notice the dishes in the sink or the tufts of dog hair gathering on the carpet, instead wandering again, back and forth between rooms trying to think what it is I am supposed to be doing and why I don’t seem able to do it. It is too much for me, so again, I escape into sleep not knowing whether it is day or night and not really caring. Now and then, I become aware of the phone humming and now and then I pick it up, fearing that if I don’t, someone will call 911, but mostly I let it drone on, unnoticed. I hum an old song by Simon and Garfunkel. It echoes unnaturally through the empty room; “I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.”
And in my mind, I keep seeing their little faces waving at me from the back window as they drive away. But the faces are now pressed against the back window of a school bus I am stopped behind. I’m afraid it’s finally happening. That nervous breakdown that I’d been wondering why it hadn’t. Like a fragile, fine glass sculpture finally shattering at the high frequency sounds no one else can hear; incongruent voices echo around me; shadowy figures move around me, tsk tsking like spectral mother hens. I stand alone in the middle of a frozen lake and watch as irregular cracks form around me and creep haphazardly and rapidly outward in concentric circles. Vague figures surround the perimeter of the pond with worried features, gesturing wildly, trying to step out and help, but powerless to do so as their efforts only exacerbate the fracturing ice. It is happening on the heels of the slow, steady recognition of the unalterable, irrevocable fact that you are never coming back. That you are absolutely, and truly, gone.