Distraction and Unreality
Do we know what’s real? I mean, what’s REALLY real? I can’t answer that question anymore because my mind is trapped inside some kind of time paradox where Ana’s still alive and here with us. Some days, I’m positive she’s just out with friends or that she’s home, listening to music behind the closed door of her room (which is mostly unchanged except I’ve cleaned it up a little.)
If this feeling of unfinished business, of being incomplete, of separating from reality is grief, then I don’t want it. Sorrow and anger make sense to me. They’re what I expected. But this is purgatory–an endless agony of trying to move forward without wanting anything to change.
I’m having a hard time understanding the paradoxes inherent in living my life right now. I want my pain to go away. I want to move forward again. I want to fully accept that Ana is gone and think about her in the context of sunlight, joy, and freedom, but my stupid brain keeps rejecting these things. Why?
Because it’s hard for the faithless to have faith.
Because I’m worried that the story I keep telling myself (e.g., “she’s in a better place”) is bullshit–a shred of false hope that makes me feel better, nothing more.
Because I don’t actually want to believe any of this–that she’s gone, that I’ll grow old and Emily will grow up–without Ana.
Because she suffered so much in the years before she died–forced to grow up too fast, forced to give up total control of her life, forced to endure and endure and endure.
Because I’m exhausted. I feel done with life.
It makes some sort of sense when an adult dies. I was by my uncle’s side when he breathed his last breath at the age of 49. He’d had esophageal cancer for about five years. I remember how he’d gotten so thin that he couldn’t stand looking at himself in the mirror. He said he looked like a concentration camp victim. And he was right. He was skeletal, hollow-cheeked, suffering…
But he was also 49. When my uncle died I was sad, but I was 28 and even though I witnessed death, it seemed very far away. It seemed, back then, like it was just passing through, like it would never touch me.
But Ana…she was so much a part of me, my life, my identity, my joy. Her friends will keep changing, but she never will. They’ll go to college. They’ll meet people, marry, grow their own families. They’ll forget her, mostly. They’ll all forget. I will wonder about them, just as I’m doomed to wonder daily about how Ana would have fared in the world. Maybe I’ll be bitter. Maybe I’ll be happy. Right now, I don’t even care.
I watched a video of Ana singing yesterday and her voice filled the room. Her voice, strong and beautiful–distinctly Ana. I listened, I cried, I knew she was real. Then I thought, “Why do I have to keep reminding myself of that?” Of course she was real.
I wonder if technology makes accepting death worse. The pictures, the videos, the recordings–imprints of people gone, lives gone. Does it contribute to this paradox? I think so. Seeing Ana’s face daily, hearing her voice, it simultaneously soothes and torments me. The green landscape soothes and torments me. The passing of time…it heals and destroys. I wouldn’t give up a single photo or video, but I can almost hear Ana tsking in the back of my mind and telling me to stop hovering.
I no longer think of death as something passing through. It’s part of my life now, part of my reality. I don’t think that’s tragic, although I’m sure if someone said that to me before I’d lost Ana, I’d find the statement melodramatic, alarming, a cry for help. Ana was a part of me and when a part of yourself dies, then you can’t deny death, or ignore it, or distract yourself from it. I don’t know what to do with this new realization except let it settle in around me, and reassess every little thing about my life. This feels like an enormous and impossible task. I’m just so damn tired.