Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Neither Have I Wings To Fly

The river is wide,
I can’t cross over;
And neither have I
Wings to fly.
—Traditional Irish Folk ballad

There are so many, many times during the day that memories of you strike me, often unbidden: I’ll see a young woman who reminds me of you. I’ll think of a song (such as the one noted above) that makes me think of you. I’ll come across a photo. There’s no escaping this and, of course, no one (except for the man who murdered you) is to blame. In fact, there may come a time, I’m told, when I’ll cherish these memories, a time when I’ll embrace them. After all, they’re all that I have left of you. I’m looking forward to that time, but so far it’s not happening. For now, the memories are like bright, sharp knives that twist in my gut.

Then there are memories triggered by something someone has said or done. Usually it’s quite inadvertent: A friend might make a comment about how well her college-age son or daughter is doing. Someone might say something reminiscent of some of the verbal banter in which the two of us used to engage. (“Is that a whine? There’s no whining here!” Or maybe, “Poor… ,” something like the way we used to make fun of whatever problem you might be having by saying, “Poooooor Rachel.” Poking fun at ourselves by poking fun at [and thus minimizing the importance of] whatever “tragedy” had befallen you that week.) A buddy might mention “the kids” or even just talk about an upcoming graduation.

The thing is that when people do this, they almost always realize that they’ve just said something that might be hurtful; they glance quickly at me to see if I noticed, and then they carry on as quickly as possible in the hopes that perhaps I missed whatever it was.

I never miss it. Not ever. How could I? I think of you always. The ache is not as painful as it once was – at least, not usually – but it’s always present. It doesn’t take much to make it flare up; every such comment makes the pain jump instantly from a sort of background ache to a sharp, momentarily debilitating pain.

But I guess I’d rather that than think that I could ever forget you.