The Mercy of Silence

For years I have wished I had something David wrote before he died. Today I had a powerful reminder that that wish unfulfilled is a mercy.

It’s easy to forget in the fading distance of years what a monster addiction is and what it does to the person you love. You’d think I would never be able to forget, but time does in fact dull the edges. Addiction takes over the mind and body of the person you love—and while the face and shapes are still there as you desperately try to reach them, Addiction is has taken the wheel and is in the driver’s seat. That person will say and do terrible things with the information they have access to in the mind of your loved one—both to you, and to themselves. It’s monstrous.

I was fortunate that in between relapses, when I would tell David about the things he said and did—when I still had hope that maybe this time recovery would stick—he was suitably horrified and ashamed. He had no memory of his words or his actions, and did his best to make amends. But there are things seared into my memories that I will never be able to forget. However briefly though, I was able to see him again. That cycle, as awful as it was, allowed me to see that active Addiction and David were not the same.

I don’t write that to make excuses. The addict is responsible for the harm they cause; I write to try and remind myself of the distinction. The Addict did things David would never do. The addict said things David would never say, and things he did not feel, think, or believe. The Addict was a monster who stole every good thing and a million possible futures not just from me and our children, but ultimately from David.

If he’d written something as he was finally driven off the cliff, it would not have been from David. For the first time, I am grateful for the silent absence tonight.

Peace and mercy to anyone who is familiar with this path. May time soften the edges of your grief, too.

Like a Stone: Greif

And on I read
Until the day was gone
And I sat in regret
Of all the things I’ve done
For all that I’ve blessed
And all that I’ve wronged
In dreams until my death
I will wander on

In your house, I long to be
Room by room, patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there

I once read somewhere that when a person loses a limb they may feel phantom pains and sensations where that part of themselves once was. My heart finds it poetic and achey that the mind continues to carve space and precious dendrites and electricity for something that is missing, gone, an echo.

Last week I came across a little query meme asking if you had ten minutes with someone you lost, who would you choose— my breath didn’t even catch before the answer spilled into my hands, but before I could even catch his name, I knew would give every last second of that time to my children. Ten minutes. Ten. Precious. Minutes.

As the years roll on, the time he’s been gone grows longer; our children have known more life without him than they knew with him, and they were barely old enough to know him at all. That truth will stretch on infinitely. They barely remember him except for the stories I tell and the finite pictures (where there will never be more). I talk of him often and easily, but it’s not enough. It was never going to be enough.

And I feel that phantom pain in the part of me he took with him. Parts of me are missing and will be missing forever—there is no getting them back, no magic word or prayer or modern marvel that will restore what is gone. They are parts that no one can see or feel, and that when you look at me don’t even exist anymore. But those missing pieces do exist. They exist as real as anything that ever was in my mind, where precious dendrites and electricity perform a magical and painful alchemy of what once was.

If we’re all stories in the end who is to say what’s real anyway.