HAP Posted January 10, 2013 Report Share Posted January 10, 2013 Dear friends, I looked at myself in the mirror the other day—I mean really looked—not like I do when I shave or brush my teeth. I did not recognize the person staring back at me in the glass. Jane’s death 25 months ago from NET cancer has changed me as much physically as mentally and emotionally. I don’t know what caused me to look. Maybe it was a passing glance that turned to fascination. But had I seen me in the street I would not have known me. Even the eyes have changed. There is sternness there instead of the twinkle I had grown used to over our 21 years three months and eight days of marriage. And my smile has died. I should not be surprised. Our lives were two intertwined vines, locked together from root to crown. No gardener could have pulled out one without damaging the other. When the NET cancer ripped her away, half my roots and stems and branches went with her—and the bits of her that remain tangled in me have hardened to such stiffness that removing them would kill what is left of me. Over time I will grow around those parts of her that remain in me—encase them within the bark of my being. But for now, they are all sharp and brittle. They scrape against me and wear down the edges of me, leaving dark scars and avenues for invasion of the soft tissue beneath. Eventually, perhaps, those sores will callus over. I am in no position to know. My vegetable existence is caught up in the moment. I explore the pain of it like a tongue caressing the place in the mouth the teeth have just errantly bit. The taste of it is salty and bitter and tinged with the regret of a self-inflicted wound. I’ve been reading a book—From We to Me. At one point the authors talk about something they call “skin hunger.” We are addicted to our lover’s touch—and when it vanishes we become so starved for it that the hunger leaves us open to a thousand poor relationship choices. I know precisely what they are talking about. There was not a day we did not touch in those 21 years. At the end we held hands at every opportunity—and would have held each other more closely if we could have. Before they sealed her casket, I stood alone in the chapel and kissed her forehead, nose, and lips as I had every night before we slept. And before they lowered the coffin into the ground, I gave it one last kiss, wishing it were her. And now, there is nothing. I go days—sometimes weeks—with no physical contact with another human being of any kind. I crave even a handshake—and a hug…a hug is a pleasure almost beyond imagining. But neither of those comes close to the feel of her next to me in the bed at night—an hours’ long snuggle that stands in memory like a myth of the gods. But there is a thing even worse than that physical absence. I had no name for it until two days ago. I call it “soul hunger.” And it is a privation that makes “skin hunger” the merest wisp of desire by comparison. If friends are, as Plato would have it, a single soul in two bodies, what, then, are lovers, whose unity grows out of true friendship? I miss Jane’s touch; I miss touching her; but it is the absence of her soul that grieves me most and throws my mind into chaos. A hug can be had for the price of a hug—but there is no price nor barter for the brush of a vanished soul. Peace, Harry Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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