May 09, 2006
Every night, before we would go to sleep, MIchele and I said good night to each other. Over the course of our marriage this ritual became a bookend on the day. Even on those rare occasions when we didn’t go to bed at the same time we shared our good nights with each other. In the months since her death I have continued to say out loud, in the dark, my portion of the good nights. In my mind and sometimes in my heart I can hear her good nights to me. I have found comfort in this simple ritual, the context is from a time when I wasn’t grieving and filled with sorrow. For a few seconds I can escape the pain and torment that follows me around like a my shadow.
Some nights I don’t hear her response, something about the context I’m trying to recreate isn’t right and so the memory trick doesn’t work. It is always depressing when this happens as I feel farther away than ever from her. I know that over time, no matter how hard I try to keep the context fresh in my mind, that the sound of her voice will fade and I will lose another part of her.
The death of a loved one is merely the first step on a lifetime path of little deaths. Everyday you remember something that brings the loss back into sharp focus. Everyday you forget something, or lose touch with a piece of your missing loved one. Each of these events is another death. Another instance where your loved one dies for you. Your memories of them die, your connection to that part of you that was alive around them dies. A friend of mine who quit smoking once said that every so often a situation would arise that brought back the urge to smoke. She would stumble across a context where that habit had played a part. She went on to say that after popping the bubble of that context by not indulging the habit, that it would go away and not return when the context did.
My fear is that my memories of Michele, the contexts where I still hear her voice, or see her beautiful smile are going to go away too. It has been thirty-three years since my sister died and I have almost no recollection of her. Not of her alive, just pictures, and memories of memories. Knowing that eventually my memories of Michele will fade and disappear too, is awful to realize.