Yesterday, Charlie says, It was like a Holocaust for me when she died. Aunties, uncles, cousins, mother, father, everyone gone.

I don’t mean to trivialize actual genocide. Her death was not like genocide.

It is just I lost everyone.

Everyone.

I also lost my whole sense of meaning and purpose, which was wrapped up in her. The purpose of life was to survive to adulthood so that we could find a way to be free.

Together.

It is like getting through the Olympic trials only to find out they have permanently cancelled the Olympics.

I got out—Olympic trials passed.

She isn’t there to go back for or to save. No Olympics.

Now what?

I have to live a whole different life than I wanted to live. I have to live a life that seems a pale shadow of what I thought I could have. There aren’t any Olympics now. This is as good as it gets.

It’s hard to explain this.

It’s not that anything is wrong. PTSD is a bitch. That’s true. I can see though that this is going to get better. Grief is a bitch. I can see that it’s possible for this to get better too.

But nothing—nothing—is ever going to be what it might have been. It is like having to live in a cave, or with no sun, or in only black and white all of a sudden. Life without Natashka is like life lived in the dark.

I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t know how to help myself. My impulse is to just get on with things. I know I have to stop doing that. I have to stop getting on with things. I have to let things hurt. Otherwise they keep hurting. Or I am anaesthetized. One of the two. Either way, it is not going to help me.

Getting on with things doesn’t let you heal anything. It buys you time until you get through the crisis. That’s all. The crisis is over now. It’s time to start looking at the wounds.

But I don’t know how.

Sam slept with his earing in his hand last night. The earing reminds him that Nata is free now and she is safe and he can sleep without worrying about her. He did not wake up. He slept all the way through until morning.

I know what to do for him.

I don’t know what to do for myself, except I suppose I need to acknowledge how I feel.

I held on. I fought to live. I survived. I got out of danger. I found myself in this.

I don’t want it.

This is wonderful. I don’t want it.

It’s like I ordered something from a catalogue. Let’s say I ordered a shirt. And the shirt comes, and it’s a lovely shirt, but it’s the wrong colour, it’s the wrong size, the pattern on the front is not to my taste. I don’t like it. For some reason, no other shirt is possible. I cannot return it. This is the only shirt I am going to get, and it’s hard to see that this shirt is also lovely. Because I didn’t order this shirt. It’s the wrong shirt.

This is the wrong life. I don’t want it. I want the life I fought for.

I am never, ever, ever in a hundred years going to get it. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, make this life into the one I wanted. I can fill it with people I love and meaning and purpose and beauty and it’s still a life with the lights out.

It’s still a life without the person who was everyone to me. It is still a life without her.

And this seems really trivial in a way, really unimportant. She was just one person. There are other people who can love me too, who can make me happy, who are also wonderful.

But people aren’t replaceable. They aren’t interchangeable parts. No matter who or what I allow into my life, they are never going to be her.

She is what I wanted. What I wanted was a life with her.

Reality is sometimes so helpful. I wanted life with her. I didn’t get it. I am therefore disappointed. Simple. But it was so hard for me to get there.

We are so inundated with shortcuts to happiness it’s hard to resist them. Be content with what you have.

Lovely. It’s a lovely sentiment. I wish it were that easy.

I wish I did not feel disappointed. I wish I felt something other than what I feel. I wish I could order contentment like I might order a shirt. I wish I could decide what to feel and have the feeling come when I called it.

But contentment is like my wild dog. She comes when she feels like it. She is happy to see me when she does see me, but it might be weeks before she shows up.

It’s worse though to keep fighting with how I feel. It is worse to say Be happy with this life. It’s a perfectly nice life. You should like it. It is worse to say than to just confront what is.

It is not the life I want. It is a lovely life. I don’t want it. That’s what is.

 

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