Love, Pain, Death, and Her This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 28, 2009
By , Glen Ellyn, IL
She has been coughing constantly all night, struggling to breathe, literally fighting for her life.
And yet she still finds the energy to smile at me when I walk into her room.
She's missed me.
We live in the same house and yet our paths scarcely cross.
I've been avoiding her.
By ignoring her pain, I somehow think that I can make it go away.
If I don't see it, then it can't be real.
But it is real and so is she.
And I am real too, and somehow, I have settled into a habit of fleeing from pain.

It is springtime now, still wet and rainy, with flowers just beginning to poke through the dark soil.
I am faced with the bitter reality that it will be her last spring.
Barring a miracle, and I hear that miracles are in short supply this year.
And so is faith.

I sit by her bed and read aloud for a few minutes until she motions for me to stop. She is too tired, the struggle of living too difficult.
I squeeze her hand; kiss her hair softly.
I feel her absence already, watching her sleep.
But she is still there.
For a while, anyway.
The hiss of the oxygen tank reminds me of vanity.
And pain.
I don't let myself think ahead to the days that she won't be there for.
I don't let myself think about her pain.
I stop thinking.

Now, I am mechanical, operating slowly through the dark chasms of life.
I don't feel life. It sweeps over me and I let it come.
But later I realize that I can't remember those months, the last days.
I remember her.
Oxygen tanks.
Hospice nurses.
And me.
But its like I am a shadow observing the scene, I am not actually a part of it.

Today, I miss her.
Grief escalates, but refuses to dissipate.
Other losses compound it; the world moves on.
They forget, but do they really have anything to remember?
There is healing in remembering, and I have learned that pain ignored only grows greater as you flee.

Deep pain requires deep love, and the very fact that I feel deep pain means that I have accomplished love.
So, if pain is love, then by not facing pain, I am not completing my love.
Because sometimes love hurts.
Or else it wouldn't be love.
So I am going to stop running.
I am going to just be.

I just wish she was here to tell me how.

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