I broke a tea mug the other day. It was one of a his and her pair with Shekhar’s and my name on our individual mugs. The day was our 23rd wedding anniversary. A sign?
Yesterday it was five years since he passed away. We just finished the akhand path in his memory and my thoughts, as always, are maudlin at these milestones. How can the years pass and the moments still carry such weight? How can I be here and at that moment at the same time? I never quite understand.
I remember the day my chartered accountant was filling out my tax returns for the first time after Shekhar. When we came to the section on my marital status, I said married and he said single. I found it hard to agree and still do. For all means and purposes, I am married. This was not the end of a relationship, a parting of ways by choice…death did us part.
When you get married, you know deep down inside that whenever it happens one of you will go before the other. There are a fortunate few who do pass together, but for most it is likely that one will be left behind. I prayed it wouldn’t be me. I didn’t believe that I would be able to survive without Shekhar, to breathe and live in a world that was marked by his absence…
For the first few days, I stood at the gate looking at how people went about their lives when mine had changed so dramatically. But had it? The sun still rose, bright and beautiful. I slept a chemically assisted sleep, I woke. My appetite disappeared then reappeared. I took one step after another, I moved, I breathed, I talked, I cried…I was amongst the living, so I lived. Without him.
In one of my favourite movies, Phenomenon, John Travolta’s character is hit by lightning and develops extraordinary abilities to read, think, grasp and understand. He meets then falls in love with a mother of two, played by Kyra Sedgwick. It turns out that his new found abilities are actually the result of a fatal brain tumour and he has a very short time to live. The movie for me is defined by a scene toward the end where they lie together and he asks her, “Will you love me for the rest of my life?” and she replies, “No, I will love you for the rest of mine.”
It is how I feel about Shekhar. A cup breaks, marital status on a form changes…I put one step in front of another and suddenly five years have passed. I have no illusions about life standing still. It will go on, more years will pass, circumstances will change, I will change but this I do know for certain, I will love him for the rest of my life.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Of our hurts we make monuments of survival. If we survive.
Joyce Carol Oates