I’m frozen by the sight of you, by the texture of your hair, the sound of your footsteps on the pumpkin pine floor, and the color of your eyes — a December blue. I’m overwhelmed by the familiarity of your scent that has been gone from our house for so long.
I can do nothing else but hug you and feel the beating of my heart as you hug me back. I want to hold on forever. I’m afraid to let go.
Do I have to share you? I don’t want to be selfish — so many of us miss you, but I need the whole day, every single second of it. I need it more than they do.
It’s hard for me to see you in my mind’s eye, to imagine you hugging me back. It’s impossible to recall the smallest details of your physical self.
I weep when the familiar weight of your head rests briefly on my shoulder. You sigh and I hear the breath filling the lungs that failed you.
A single day is no time. A single day is everything.
I take you to my favorite nature sanctuary and show you the parts of the river that I love the most. We sit side-by-side on a beach made from tumbled bricks and mud.
I try to forget about time, but I can feel the weight of it pressing in around me.
You are both the child that left me and someone altogether new. I can’t get a fix on the shape of your face, or the exact blue of your eyes. I can’t quite pinpoint the length of your hair or the dress you’re wearing or the tenor of your voice. But, still, I know every part of you. For the first time in almost two decades, I recall how it felt to hold you after you were born.
You sing and laugh and talk to me. The day unfolds around us as we visit the places you loved — the frog pond, the park where you skipped stones, the tiny towns with their vintage shops and used bookstores, then home where your laughter follows me into a house that welcomes you back, as if it had not witnessed that last, long goodbye.
We sit on the porch and wait for the moon as you tell me about things I can’t possibly grasp. You speak of worlds baked into worlds and endlessness and the fiction of time.
“Time is not fiction,” I hear myself say and this makes you laugh (the sound is like music). “Time is what stole you from me — how it ran out and then, again, how it pulled the memory of you further and further away.”
You shake your head and grab my hand, try to explain what can’t be explained. You describe a great connectivity that I can’t see or feel or smell. You tell me to forget time, that my obsession with counting every moment that passes is a barrier between us. You spread your arms wide and I try to memorize the shape of you as the light fades and the moon appears.
My heart is at once full and empty. The day is ending.
The day is ending.
I wonder if I will have to start my grief from the beginning. I worry that I won’t survive the unyielding pain of losing you all over again. But you can read my mind and you tell me not to worry.
Look for feathers, you say. Look for signs. Watch the sky. Walk on the trails and paths that you love. Talk to me. Don’t worry so much about time. It’s the smallest of barriers.
I am in bed and you are standing beside me. You kiss my forehead, pull the covers up to my chin and tell me you love me.
Keep watching the birds, you say. Keep taking pictures. Keep saying my name.
My eyelids feel heavy and begin to close, no matter how hard I try to keep them open. You are still there. You wait with me in the expanse of space that exists between waking and sleeping. You fade away, but I can still feel you.
I’ve been here the whole time, you say and the weight around my heart lightens as I fall asleep.