Liana watched as the email came in. A “wink” from the cyberspace-dating world. God, she said to herself, how did I get myself into this? She settled down into the office chair and clicked on the picture. Ugg, not for me. So she pushed the search button and scanned the faces that were supposed to match with her. Looking at their eyes, their smile – trying to find someone who seemed familiar, someone to fill the huge void in her heart.
She knew that it was really too soon to start dating again, but the computer drew her in and offered temporary distraction from her grief. Sam was gone only three months, and her loneliness felt bottomless and searing. The pain was mind numbing, and she was filled with chaotic noise.
Liana was surprised that the thought of another man even entered her head. She was searching for comfort and was drawn to the images coming from her computer.
She was acutely aware that there was no one to put his arm around her shoulder in a familiar and loving way. It was the knowing that Sam wasn’t there to embrace her, or to share in a lingering and familiar kiss. It was the sadness she had knowing that she was no longer held special in his eyes, or that she would never again feel the safety of his arms. His being was gone and the curtain had come down on their shared history.
While looking at the computer screen, she wondered if she would ever “fit” with someone again? It was as if she would be an alien meeting a human for the first time. After so many years, 44, to be precise, Liana didn’t know what someone else would feel like. How would she feel when someone other than Sam kissed or touched her?
She shuddered when she used the word widow. It was a label she hadn’t anticipated, and didn’t want to embody. She could taste the bitterness surging through her body. Liana stroked the image of Sam’s face in his picture. She said out loud with tears flowing down her cheeks, “why did you leave me? How could you do that to me, to us at this time in our lives?”
Seeking comfort, Liana wrapped herself in Sam’s bathrobe, sniffing it to catch a whiff of him. She often sprayed his bathrobe with his favorite cologne – a familiar and delicious smell. The bathrobe brought back so many memories – when she would stand behind him, wrap her arms around him, and nuzzle into him. Sam would laugh and turn his face to her with his winning grin. Never to be relived again, just to be replayed in her memory as a treasured moment.
Liana wandered into the kitchen and rummaged though the pantry looking for something to push down her pain. Nothing worked, nothing removed the bitter taste, and even chewing was an effort. She felt lost, weary and lonely.
So she reluctantly made her way into their bedroom with her beloved cats in tow. Liana’s cats had been sentinels at her side during the ordeal of his dying and death. They knew something was wrong, and tried to comfort her by curling up beside her – nuzzling her arm, hitting her with their tails. They slept nearby which helped ease her loneliness.
Her side of the king sized bed shrunk; she slept near the edge – not wanting to move into the sacred space where she used to snuggle into him. Sam’s side of the bed was empty and a reminder of his absence. She could barely look at it and covered up the vacant space by putting things there — magazines, books, folders, and papers.
During those rare moments when she actually slept, out of habit Liana would reach out to touch him, nudge him with her foot, put her hand on his back to make sure he was breathing. These “things” gave her something to touch other than empty space.
While sitting in their bed and silently weeping, Liana often wrote Sam letters, sharing words for him to hear. She knew that Sam’s energy was there, and if he could, he would have reached through the ethers to comfort her.
Throughout their ordeal, Sam’s eyes told her that he desperately wanted to protect her from what was to come, but he didn’t know how. Her heart actually hurt and her grief oozed out when that image emerged. She was wounded and raw, and felt like a stranger in her own body and mind.
Liana knew that she was in uncharted waters. It was another beginning, a new unanticipated journey. Her survival instincts kicked in and she made an appointment with a hospice bereavement counselor, intuitively knowing this would help guide her through the maze of her loss, her grief.
After finally falling into a fitful sleep she awoke with a start, and these words surfaced: “Where are you? Where are you? “ The silence in their bedroom provided no comfort, no answer. Just the blinking of a digital clock telling her that it had been his time to go, and it was her time to learn how to “be” on her own. Together, as a couple, Sam and Liana’s life had been filled with treasured gifts. Now, on her own, there were life lessons ahead to experience.
The next morning, Liana sat in bed with her coffee and opened her laptop. The computer blinked, a new cyber-space stranger had noticed her and wanted to communicate. And, so, another day began with a “wink” and a “nod”.
Laurel D. Rund 2011