I awoke suddenly, with a start. I couldn’t tell if it was late dusk or early dawn, but the sky was a strange iridescent grey and persimmon with silent, stoic mountains and ramrod straight pines, both silhouetted in charcoal and black as if superimposed on the scene as an afterthought. It was morning again—another too early morning beginning at 4:27 a.m.—the start of another interminable day.
I began it as usual, talking to you. My cheeks still had the dried remnants of denitrified NaCl (produced without a solubility curve and, I’m sure, chemically misnomered), from the previous night’s rampage of tears. I have begun to wonder if the tempestuous emotions I still feel and experience are too excessive. But you say “no,” and smile at me with that crooked smile and one eyebrow arched higher than the other. You used words for me like intense and passionate, and made me believe these were desirable characteristics.
I wonder why I can’t seem to move forward even though I seem to be doing that, if only physically. I write freely of the most intimate and writhing grief in my soul so that if someone should…no…when someone does come behind me, they will know I have gone before them on this impossible road and that they are not feeling anything not common to man. They are not crazy. They are not awful. They are not alone. That, however, is the extent of my current value. I look with dread at the front I must try to maintain for the sake of others. How weary I am of worrying about others when inside I am, myself, a post hurricane disaster zone of hoarder’s emotions. I don’t know what to do with all this pain, Scotty Darlin’! It washes over me day and night. My world is a landmine of explosives ready to erupt with even my lightest tread upon it. Everywhere there are littered fragments of me evidencing this slow, insidious war I don’t seem to be winning. My redundancy disgusts me as I repeat my same mantra over and over, day in and day out: I cannot live without you! I cannot do this thing called living without you! Please someone make the pain stop! Say something, do something, do anything to relieve its incessant, unbearable nagging!!! But the heavens are meretriciously silent. I strain my ears until I perch on the ledge of a ruptured tympanic membrane but hear no answer. Yet, as Elijah withstood the prophets of the false deity, Baal, proving the one true God, so I will continue to climb repeatedly up and down this tortuous mountain, praying for the rain, knowing it must come. Even while the sky is too blue to be pleasant, the sun too hot and bright to be warming, and the air so dry it causes your lips to stick to your teeth, keep praying for the rain. I know for you and I, someday, it will come.
I have decided I hate the past tense in all its various forms. The simple past: I was happy. You were with me. The continuous past: Just nine months ago, you were holding me in your arms. Even the past perfect: I had kissed you at least a million times. Because, no matter how spoken, there is such an unalterable finality to the closed and bolted door behind the words. I passed a sign the other day on the freeway that said “Historic Site Ahead,” so I took the exit. The girls were at tutoring, leaving me an hour or more to while away. It was hard to find, as the past sometimes is, but I stumbled upon its crooked and decrepit sign. The field in which it stood was overgrown, a veritable jungle of tangled, thorny blackberry and smilax vines. Clearly, it was woefully neglected, likely as a result of our relentless desire to forget the past. There was a tunnel at the terminus therein called the Old Cascade Tunnel—built in 1900 for the Great Northern Railroad to traverse the Cascades to Puget Sound. However, one fateful day, March 1st, 1910, 96 people were killed in an avalanche on that spot, 35 of whom were railroad workers. Legend has it that, at night, you can hear their cries moaning up through the tunnel floor, refusing to be silenced until they are remembered.
But I will always remember you my Darling…always and forever. There will be no breath in my lungs but that which is shared by you. I hate my life without you. I wish there was an acceptable way out, but there isn’t. So, alternatively, I wish someone could crawl into my heart with me and feel this so I wouldn’t have to bear it alone. And so I would know for certain that someone understood. I used to think as you slept peacefully beside me, your hand holding mine as you dreamt, how lonely we were as human beings, each in our own separate vessels. There is only one thing that makes us, even transiently, one. And that, too, leaves a greater sense of aloneness for having grasped it for a moment, only to lose it again.
I pray for those who are reading this that something of its veracity stirs you. Maybe you can share my erratically meandering thoughts and feel less alone in yours. I pray, too, that the word of God can convince me I am never really alone in my aloneness. I shall think of Joseph of Old Testament fame, who must have felt so alone and misunderstood as he sat in his cold dungeon, innocent of the crimes leveled against him. Of Daniel, who must have felt so alone when his fellow wise men betrayed him out of jealousy and spite. Of Job, whose sufferings seem parallel to my own, who was so alone in his misery without wife nor friend to comfort or console wisely and truly. Of brave Elijah, the last of God’s true prophets, who with courage and faith withstood the enemy alone. And most importantly, I shall think of Jesus. In unfathomable aloneness, separated from a union so intimate we cannot even conjure up a picture of it, He cried tears and sweat drops of blood for the pain of it. My aloneness has not left me with greater faith or courage. It has not reflected well off my tarnished soul, but I pray someday, it will. I pray there will be a day up ahead when, rather than only bearing this indescribable journey with you, I could be strength and encouragement, promising you a brighter day ahead. I would be lying if I spouted off such platitudes now. You all would know they would not be true. Yet, somewhere in that swirling black tornado, I know there is a present in the future I can live with. I just must make it there.
Perhaps it is less that I hate the past so much but, rather, that I yearn to live in it but cannot. You are there, and in the eternality of the future. It is only the present that is so brutal. Perhaps it is only the present that I hate, and that is only the present of today. Maybe tomorrow will be better. So I shall hang on another day.