Yesterday was dreadful. Really and truly dreadful. I have had many dreadful days—and monstrous ones in my childhood—but this was clearly the most dreadful one of my adulthood.

I spent the day—most of it—as Annoushka, and Annoushka’s grief is crushing. It is more crushing than anyone else’s. I did not expect it. I knew she was taking it hard. I knew she was more resistant to accepting Natashka’s death.

I did not know she would spend what felt like hours—but when I looked was only 20 minutes—lying in bed trying to lie still, because if she did not move she could not find herself in the livingroom with a rope hanging herself. (She has it worked out. There is a beam in the livingroom that is not flush with the ceiling, and there is space for a rope to fit through. She does not know where the rope is, but I did not put that knowledge in a box and hide it from her. She knows it is in one of two places. She knows she just has to look in them.)

I did not really expect any of that.

Natashka’s death really was the death of her dreams. All of them. There was no other dream.

And she is made a little differently than the rest of the parts. Verka can go on slogging through life waiting to die. She can just clean the house, feeling despairing, but moving forward anyway. I can live with no thought for the future except that I need to get through the day.

Annoushka needs a dream. Annoushka needs some reason to do all of this and the reasons that motivate me to keep doing it do not motivate her. She has, first of all, no sense of responsibility about living.

She has no sense that one of us—either Natalya or I–has to live. She does not, either, have the vague memory of a promise being made about this. She doesn’t give a fuck. Natashka is dead. There’s no reason to keep a promise and no reason to live for the sake of the other.

Annoushka needs something to look forward to. It seemed to me, listening to her thoughts, that almost anything will do. She just needs something, some little bright light in the future to walk towards, but it was hard to do that. She has not been out very much, and so what might be her bright light seemed hard to pin down.

She doesn’t like it here though. Or she doesn’t like my life here. It is mostly work. I don’t do anything. I am just trying to heal. It is like a wasteland for her—immensely dull and boring. That’s not really the problem, but it makes the bright lights to walk toward hard to locate.

I ought to go into the real problem a bit more.

The real problem is the picket fence. The real problem is that she wanted a life with Natashka, a settled life, a life not unlike what most everyone else seems to want, and because the present was so terrible, all of her energy was invested in the future. When Natashka died, her future died with it.

It would be one thing if she could have Natashka, but the picket fence became untenable. She could adjust.

It would be one thing, too, if she lost Natashka, but could have the picket fence with someone else. However, she does not seem to be wired that way. She would, I think, prefer to be different. But she is not. There is only one partner for her. Ever.

And so she is stuck.

She is grieving Natashka, but she is also grieving the Plan. She is grieving her hope for the future. She could, I think, have a different plan. It would not involve kids or houses in the country or cows or dogs. It would not involve a lover or a settled life. But it is hard to formulate a different plan for her just now. It is hard to think up a different imagined future for her to live for. So many things are in flux.

It is just so hard to live without one.

In the summer, when we get a holiday, we are going to visit a very dear friend. She is excited about this. The friend bakes a lot. Cookies are a part of my friend’s life, as are cupcakes. Annoushka doesn’t like to cook, but she likes to bake. So that is one tiny, tiny bright light for her.

Just live and we can make cookies with our friend. I don’t know about the future beyond that, but just keep going one day at a time, Annoushka, and there will be cookies at the end of it.

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