When I wrote about cognitive dissonance before I talked about how the glimmers of ease I was beginning to experience felt like betrayal; a betrayal of the love Kevin and I shared, a betrayal of how torn I felt and feel. Now it feels as though the whole world is a state of cognitive dissonance.
I am certainly more functional than I was. I am working again, I am thinking about the future in small ways, I get up out of bed every damn day. I've smiled. I've even laughed some. I've had conversations where the first words out of my mouth were not My husband died recently from pancreatic cancer.
A part of me knows all of this is good. The ancient wise ones inside of me (we all have those parts that are wise and loving; this is one of the ways I refer to mine) smile gently and nudge me forward. But this encouragement does not stop the pain or the love that I carry with me every minute.
I dreamt last night I was waiting for Kevin to be rolled out of the operating room. I was so anxious and scared yet a part of me knew he was going to come out and still be breathing, that this anxiety was a gift compared to what was coming. I woke confused and then remembered. I would welcome that anxiety compared to this emptiness.
A while later I woke from another dream in which I was attending a storytelling conference. I was happy, or at least glad to be there. Even as I knew Kevin wasn't going to turn the corner and hug me. I woke and wept.
These dreams capture the dissonance I am so aware of.
There are moments that happen every day when I have an experience and know it is something Kevin would love. Would have loved. And when I make that grammatical shift I gasp. The sudden rush of breath reminding me that the love of my life, the best man I have known, is no longer among the living. How can the world be without him? I don't know. And yet it is.
The reality of it stops me in my tracks. The sudden breath reminds of my presence, here, in this moment. That's all I can do; accept that state of dissonance, breath, and take another step forward, bringing the past with me.
(47 weeks. A year ago you were breathing. You were home. Your skin against mine.)