A few strands have been emerging. One of them is simply that when Natalya died, I couldn’t make sense of it. Generally, I couldn’t make sense of anything. Nothing’s together in my mind in one place. There is never enough information together to understand anything. Everything is confusing. Everything is sheer madness.

So when the Yuri’s men come for her that night and begin to drag her down the stairs by the hair, it clicks in for me that the address I wrote on a piece of paper has some place in what is happening. And I feel guilty. I feel I want a do-over. I want to be able to go back and find a way to not allow her to do what she has done. It’s not possible.

However, I can’t ever take this thought any farther than that I can’t line up all the pieces. It remains there, this guilt and this desire to undo everything that might have led to that moment, because what I want most is for her to be alive.

At the same time, her death is this enormous betrayal for me. It leaves me suddenly immensely, utterly alone and without comfort of any kind while also struggling under the burden of her murder and everything that happened to me after that—and many things were absolutely brutal. I cannot fathom how I can live without her. But I can see she played a part in her own death, that it had something to do with her choices, and so I feel betrayed. How is it she didn’t know how much I needed her?

Again, I can’t see all the pieces. I can’t see everything. I can’t see that life for me, if she hadn’t done what she did, could very well have been significantly worse. It’s so very hard to see that, as impossibly difficult as her death was for me, she risked her life out of an immense and profound love.

Most of all, the strand that emerges out of my memories these days is that she was the person she was. She was phenomenally strong, she was committed, she had a tremendous capacity for love and she had a heart-breaking ability to be unselfish and to sacrifice herself for things she saw as being the greater good.

And that’s who she was.

More than anything, a part of me wants to erase all the things that led up to her death. I want to erase her love so that she can’t die for it, and yet I can’t love her for who she was and at the same wish she were what amounts to someone else. That doesn’t make any sense.

She lived in a harsh world with a terribly narrow range of choices. I can be angry at that world and at the choices she had—although there is no do-over for that either—but she made the choices she did because of who she was.

I loved her. I still love her. I cannot embrace her and reject her choices. One flows out of the other.