The place is the same – the same place that I’d come to with Mark for a lazy cup of coffee, or meet him if our paths home crossed, the place with the requisite outside tables so he could smoke.
But things are so different, it sends my head reeling to think of it. It’s hard to describe the sense I have of now – vacant and void seem like depressive terms, and that’s not how I feel. There is just an absence, a silence, a pause.
Sadness over what I’ve lost, longing for Mark’s presence, for a conversation, for his perspective can still hit me sideways. But the pain is receding. I don’t know if the sadness will go – it’s like a river that courses through me, and I’m not sure that it will ever not be there. If I start talking about him sometimes, or if, like the other day I hear a piece of music that transports me to times with him, then I cry easily. But I have survived the devastation. I’m still here. That’s what I’m trying to adjust to, I think.
It’s no longer a case of surviving. Mark’s death isn’t my sole reference point anymore, the thing I have to deal with and get through each day. But I don’t really know what life is about yet. I’m working hard, I’ve started exercising with a personal trainer to kickstart my body and regain some energy. Life is establishing its own rhythm – good times with friends, times alone that feel OK now, not always agonising. I’m relearning the things I enjoy, trying to weave them into the day, so I make sure I walk, or read, go out and hang out with friends as much as I can.
It’s the desire I have to live well that intrigues me most. It’s a fragile thing, one I have to carry gently, because it can still provoke pain. But as I’m developing a new perspective, as my life with Mark becomes more firmly in the past, there are questions bubbling up about the here and now. I’m beginning to think about what constitutes a good life, but it’s a sensitive process. It’s not a case of racing helter skelter into the new, it’s more a case of picking up a new thread and beginning to work it into an existing scheme.
At least, I think that’s the case. I do know that sometimes it hurts so much to contemplate a life that doesn’t include Mark that I find it hard to think it. And I worry sometimes that I’ll get stuck in a permanent middle ground. Yet if I’m going to move beyond survival mode, and live in an intentional way, I know I’m going to have to endure that pain. And, I’m also learning, it requires delicate and sensitive handiwork to begin weaving in something new.