Today it is exactly a year since my husband passed away. I have been counting days to no purpose. From today every reference point for a memory with him will be more than a year old.
Geographically and chronologically, our sons and I have come what seems a long way but in many other ways we're still where we were, as we sat huddled in my bed on the night of April 19, 2008 - stunned, anguished, uncomprehending while our world crashed around us.
That night, like us, his shoes, half drunk glass of Diet Coke, jacket and briefcase waited for his return. Today all we have are his touch, his words, his pictures, his smell trapped in most things that surround us...it's hard not to expect him to just walk cheerfully through the door with familiar footsteps and callouts. Despite knowing better, we wait, holding our breaths...like the pause button has been pressed on our lives.
The memory of the time immediately after is harsh but fragmented - trying to coax his unresponsive body to breathe, watching helplessly as the Emergency Medical Team worked on his heart, begging to be allowed to accompany him, refused, following the flashing lights of the silent ambulance to hospital in our neighbour's car, the voice of the nurse as she said, "We're sorry...", begging again, the dreaded phonecalls at an unearthly hour, the sleeping angel in a ruffled collared paper gown in hospital, the encounter in the Chapel of Rest - where his swollen, refrigerated body waited for a funeral, prayers for the body in a coffin carried on the shoulders of friends and family, the coffin rolling into a flaming oven, the acrid smell of burning, a big man reduced to ashes that fit in a shoe-sized box...
The boys and I came to India, stripped of everything we knew to be certain. It has been a struggle to regroup, rebuild and reshape our lives around the giant void he left behind. It's easier to get through each day believing that this is transient and we will soon go "home" - that is and has always been where he is.
The boys have now moved to the next year in their new school. They are coping with their shattered hopes, dreams and expectations in the best way they can, with a constant eye on me and how I am doing. It is a heavy burden for their young shoulders... I am blessed that everyday, I get to see him live and breathe through them.
I have spent the most part of this past year mopping up the detritus of our lives across three countries. Still much remains undone. To not feel overwhelmed, I continue to chip away in small measures - one moment, one hour, one day at a time...
Since April 19, 2008, all our milestones have been silent salutes to him - without colour, celebration or joy. Maybe, someday the hunger for life will return. Someday the words that will better express this sanitized version of our journey of grief will come too. Till then we will wait, leaking emotions, just wanting to go "home".
This is for all the friends, family and angels who have helped and supported us through this difficult time. We couldn't have gotten this far without you. We are humbled, honoured and blessed to have you walk with us...walk a little longer; this journey is too hard to undertake alone. But tread softly while my angel sleeps...the rest is silence.