Sounds of Silence

December 02, 2005

The silence in my life is the hardest thing to deal with now. Coming back to the apartment from work or the movies or dinner out is coming back to a place of silence. And in that silence all I can hear are my own fears, thoughts, questions, musings, screams, whispers, and silence.

Running a load of dishes in the washer or doing laundry adds to the mechanical background present in any urban setting. The white noise of a fan or the furnace blower isn't loud enough to block out the thunderous silence here either. At best I am able to distract myself from the silence by immersing myself in a book or television show, perhaps some music or talking out loud to myself. But I always run out of sounds and lose momentum, coming to a halt on silence again.

For the first few weeks of this prison I kept my sanity by talking out loud to Michele at every turn. Little conversations about what to wear to work or have for dinner, giant conversations about the purpose of death and the futility of life. Over time, however, I have gradually stopped talking out loud so much. I still converse with Michele verbally from time to time, but the pain of not hearing her voice is too much to bear now.

I saw something in a movie or television show recently where one character says she can't remember someone who is gone. The other character says you have to put a context around the memory or it won't work. Oddly enough this is true. Every night that we went to bed at that same time we had a ritual around how we said good night. I still say my part out loud in the dark just before I go to sleep. And in my ears I faintly hear Michele respond. Other times when I try to conjure up her voice I can't hear it any more.

So the context of being alone is preventing me from connecting with my memories of our life together and all I am left with is silence. Life goes on whether we want it to or not. The inexorable forward movement of time is slowly carrying me away from the context of being her husband, of being her best friend, of being with her. A part of me will always be these things and more. A part of her will live on inside of me until I die. But my life continues to move away from our life. It is simultaneously poignant and heart breaking. I know intellectually that this is how life works, but emotionally I don't want to accept the hand that fate has dealt me.

So I sit in silence that is a raging tempest of sound and fury. And I rage and scream in the middle of a seemingly endless silence.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.