I woke up late. I ate something—not enough, but it got me through. I had coffee. I had tea. I wrote some things. I went back to bed. I had a nap. I had nightmares.

Since then, I’ve been lying in bed staring out the window. Or I’ve been sitting in a chair staring out the window. I ought to make lunch. I’m just staring.

Things need to settle today. They need some time to do that. It seems to involve the window. And staring. And not moving around too much.

Sam remembers my heartbreak at being unable to save Natashka. It is his heartbreak too. I don’t know if it is his memory or if it’s a memory leaking through to him. It doesn’t matter. He has to process that too.

They were hurting her. I couldn’t save her.

It feels like the last piece. The last piece of her life and her death that I need to understand.

On the one hand, it’s a thread that’s all through our relationship. When she died, I wanted to protect her. When she was alive I did too. I couldn’t. And so there was this constant worry under the surface. I think now I saw her irregularly. I don’t know. I don’t remember it in a narrative way. I don’t remember enough details to be able to piece it together from my sensory memories either. But it seems to me I never knew when I would see her. I didn’t know when I would be trafficked or for how long or in what way. I didn’t know if I would be trafficked and not see her. I didn’t know if I would be trafficked with her and have no other time to spend with her. I didn’t know at all.

This is what I think now.

So there was this constant anxiety between the times when I saw her about what was being done to her in between. I couldn’t do anything. But if I saw her, I could be there at least. I could help her pick up the pieces. It’s not that she was so terribly fragile, but it’s unbearable, doing what she had to do. Doing what I had to do was unbearable. Sam’s memory of her death—I couldn’t save her—is also the entire backdrop of our relationship.

It’s a terrible kind of anxiety to carry around. It was dissociated. I didn’t acknowledge it outside of her actual physical presence in front of me. But it was there. It was always there—this fear about what was being done to her and this desire to protect her from it.

It seems to me that is also the reason our relationship was so intensely physical. What I remember about it is always, always touching. As much as possible, whenever possible. Hold hands, put an arm around each other, stroke one another’s hair. Anything. Just touch. At least touch the edges of your shoes together.

It’s this reassurance: she’s still there, she’s still okay, I am still okay. It’s only partly about my needing her and needing to make sure the person who keeps me safe is also safe. It’s also that I’m constantly terrified for her. I’m terrified for myself, but I’m equally terrified for her.

But she’s dead now.

I don’t want her dead. I want her alive. Whatever life might have possible for her, I want her to have it. I want her free with me—I want everything, that’s my fantasy. But if I can’t have that, I want her alive. I want her alive even if she’s suffering, however much she’s suffering. I don’t care.

For her sake, I’m glad she’s not.

For my sake, I don’t care. I just want her alive. I want her with me. I don’t want to be separated from her at any cost to either one of us.

Selfishly, that is what I want.

Less selfishly, I want her safe.

In accepting her death more completely—as Sam’s 2-year-old grieving is allowing me to do—I am relieved of the burden of that worry.

She is safe. Whatever happens after death, she is not hurting anymore. She cannot be hurt by anyone any longer. Whatever I think or wish for or imagine, whatever I feel, she is still safe.

And so I can be sad just for me. I don’t need to be grateful for her sake that she is dead. I don’t have to see that this is really for the best. I don’t have to think or feel anything in particular.

I can feel what I feel.

She does not need anything else from me. Whatever there was to do, whatever I could do, I have done it. Or I have not done it, and now my chance is gone forever.

I can just be sad. For myself, at who and what I lost.