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Tarnished Gates

I always thought it would be different, that it would feel different. More…perfect. But it's vast and lonely, nothing like a fairytale. Moments stretch out vainly seeking the horizon. Time has no meaning here and the sheer endlessness of my eternity in this place is suffocating.

At first, the freshness of my death kept the memories at bay, and the tranquility suppressed my pain. The more time I spend here, though, the more I remember, and the more it hurts. Memories returning like old filmstrips playing frame by frame…slipping, falling, the icy water swallowing me whole, and finally letting go. It hurts.

The hollow ache mars the beauty and serenity around me. And it feels wrong somehow, like I'm not supposed to hurt so bad. But I can't help it…I miss him. I miss him more than I could have ever imagined, and the only thing worse than the pain of missing him is knowing that I am the one to blame. I did this to him, to me, to us. Such a price to pay for a moment of weakness; an eternity of permanent, consuming grief.

In the early morning light, I walk through the woods just like I have every morning since I arrived. It's quiet, the sunlight filters through the trees around me and for a moment I can imagine him walking beside me but the illusion quickly fades and I'm left alone. I thought that was what I wanted before, to be alone. Well, not really alone but…I…and he…he was suffocating me, always around and saying things I wasn't ready to hear. But the fact remains that I need him, and it's scary for me to need somebody so badly you can't breathe. Sure, it seems silly now, all of my intimacy issues, but in that moment, it was all I could think about.

I stop at a clearing to drink in the stillness of the space around me and all of a sudden, he's here. Wherever it is I am, he's here too, I can feel him. The moment hits me like a train and it's over before it ever really began. I can't breathe; I both live for and dread these moments when he is near. I can't see him, or hear him but I feel him. It's like the moment before a touch, a whisper sent on a breath. It might not seem like much but while it's happening, it's everything to me because these moments are all I get. Forever.

Long after it passes, I'm still shaking and slightly more empty than before, as I look upwards the sky is a clear, cloudless blue that seems as perfect as everything else that surrounds me. But what is most striking about it is the endlessness of its blue depths that remind me so much of his eyes when he was lost in quiet thought. Mornings when he would sit on the trailer porch overlooking his land…I could look into his eyes forever and never read all that was written there.

As I make my way back along the worn path, I think about my existence here and how it is that I've come to be in this place. I like to think it's him, that he somehow found a way to save me from myself. That girl from the bar, the one who drank a little too much and had a penchant for inappropriate men, doesn't belong here but he always saw something more. He saw the good in me, the little girl deep inside that wanted so desperately to believe in princes and happy endings, she belongs here. He would want her to be here, at peace forever.

Time passes, maybe a week or a year, I wouldn't really know because it has no real place in perpetuity. My memory begins to fade like perfume throughout the day as the calm around me settles into my spirit, pacifying me. His voice that was once so clear in my head now sounds more like my own and I struggle to see his face. It is agonizing yet oddly soothing at the same time, I don't want to forget him. I need his memories like oxygen but they are the source of my pain, my inability to find peace and so I surrender to it allowing everything that I am to be washed away. I am no longer living with the ghosts of the past that surrounded me. Shadows that kept me from moving on from this unforgiving limbo, wondering how long till I forgot their faces? their names? their love? How long until I was left alone to finally rest in pieces.

I had thought about it a million different times, a million different ways but I always got the same answer…if I could do it over it would all be so different, I would tell him how much I love him and need him because I realize now that Heaven is more of a condition than a place, and my Heaven was with him.