I am feeling very alone tonight. It is the kind of “alone” that only another widowed person can truly understand. It is one of those nights where absolutely nobody can “fix” this feeling. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to share it over the phone, or cry about it, or sit with my counselor and get out the emotions. No. I want to talk to my husband. I want to be with him, in person, and sit with him while he comforts me and holds me. And since that cannot happen in the way that I want, I need to see him in a different way. The only way that I can.
I am in my home office, and for the past 40 minutes or so, I have been staring at the large bookshelf that sits tall next to me. There, on my bookshelf, crowded in between my DVD copies of A Bronx Tale and The King of Comedy, it sits. The DVD that haunts me and terrifies me much worse than a horror film ever could.
Our wedding video. Actually, there are two of them. Both professionally done by an amazing professional videographer. There is the edited version, which is the entire ceremony, and then all the major moments of the reception, all tied up and made pretty with a bow. It includes interviews with our family and friends from inside the venue, plus lots of beautifully done montages of highlights and special moments. Then there is the unedited version, which is about 6 hours long. It starts with film of me getting ready in the bridal suite, and it includes every single moment from our day, completely untouched. In the unedited version, the cameras catch me and my soon-to-be-husband talking, practicing our first dance foxtrot, and doing our “first glance” before any of our guests arrived. I remember watching the video with Don, a few months after our wedding day in 2006. We cuddled on the couch and laughed and smiled and remembered our perfect day. He teased me for spending an obscene amount of money on a professional video, telling me time and again: “When are we ever going to watch this?” And I would say: “We’re watching it right now, smart ass.” And then, of course, we wouldn’t watch it again, until the next year, when our wedding anniversary rolled around.
Now the video sits on my shelf, marking time and raw emotion. I stare at it, and I don’t know what to do next. Like an addict staring down a bottle of pills, I am frozen. I feel paralyzed by it’s mere existence, yet it is one of the very few videos I have of my beautiful, dead husband. To have him on video speaking, laughing, dancing, kissing me, holding me, saying his vows to me, and being his silly self – it means everything now. And yet – I cannot watch it. I have not watched it. Not since his heart stopped beating over two and a half years ago. Instead, I stare at the bookshelf where the video sits. I am unable to pick it up even. If I touch it, it will be real. I am home alone tonight. My roommate is out of town, and I am having one of those nights and one of those days and weeks, where I need to feel him. I need to feel and to know that he was alive. I need to hear his voice and see his eyes peering their blueness into mine, because everything is starting to fade. I am starting to slowly lose him, piece by torturous piece. It used to be that I could close my eyes, and his crooked smile would appear instantly in my mind. No more. Now, I have to will it to happen. I have to think about it for a few seconds, before it comes. My heart beats so fast each time I cannot remember a detail or hear his sound. My soul crumbles whenever a memory loses more focus and becomes blurred. I have to confront this video. I have to SEE him being alive and living. I have to see him breathing and loving and marrying me.
But that’s the thing. I am scared. I am so scared of seeing him alive again, and what that will do to me. To see him alive and then to know that he is not alive, and he never will be again – I don’t know if I can handle that. Im so afraid that watching even five minutes of him existing will throw me backwards into a place of emotional turmoil that I don’t want to be in. My greatest fear is that I will sit down to watch this video, and I won’t be able to get back up again. I will want to hide out in my bedroom for hours and days and weeks. Hibernate from reality. Live inside my thoughts. Stay in the place where we would be together forever, and there was no death in our immediate future.
How do I know if Im ready to watch this thing? Should I do it tonight? Should I wait a few months or years? How will I know when it’s okay, and when it won’t destroy me? Lately, the same pictures of him that Ive been looking at all along on my nightstand – are making my heart skip two beats and I lose my breath. Lately, he feels so far away, and Im begging for the signs or the feeling, and nothing is coming. I am so desperate to feel him with me. I want to put that video in and press play so badly. But I am so very afraid that if I go there, I won’t want to return to here.
So I stare at the bookshelf in silence – and the fragments of us keep falling.