Leaning against a soft warm back, my face nuzzled in a scent I’d recognize twenty paces from anywhere, I sigh and bore in closer, bathed in security and comfort, recognition and love. The body presses back, slightly, acknowledgement, a melting into the other, a moment where two really can masquerade as one, without moving beyond that moment of hands and arms and skin.
I sigh and wake up again.
I miss it.
There’s a whisper living around me, a vapour. I watch a young couple walk smiling past me, hand in hand, and the ghost of that warmth slides itself across me. It’s emotionless, but present, fading like the smell of a baby on the first blanket. It merely watches with me as the ache seizes me and the loss takes hold.
He’ll never hold me again.
But he hasn’t in a long time. We haven’t held each other in forever, in that way where strength and love and joy crosses. This loss that I mourn, the warmth in a bed, the shoulder to lean on, the electric sparks across fingers-these things disappeared months ago under the weight of recovery, children, growing up, finding ourselves.
I can still feel it there, it’s remnants, and it’s what aches. It gnaws on me inside, the has been and was. The comfort I’ll need to work towards, someday, with someone else if I’m lucky. The conversations you don’t need to have because they live your life and just get it. The joy of a body who knows another.
Of course, my grief forgets the years of fights, the storming off, the misunderstandings, the struggles, the alientation-the things done wrong between two people who just can’t find what they want in the other person. Trying to balance love with the realization that the person you want to spend your years with, the qualities you desire, they just aren’t there, and maybe, never was.
A relationship can’t be built underneath a bridge of who we think we are.
So I don’t miss the terrible parts where we wounded each other beyond recovery-where finally one of us would step back and something inside would click with that resounding thud and we’d realize that there was just no stepping away from that hurt, from that betrayal, that disappointment. Maybe I should have told him I was proud of him. Maybe he could have laughed at my jokes.
Maybe doesn’t warm the bed. Maybe doesn’t make us whole.
There’s a bigger ache inside of me, a bigger hole to be filled than he can, than he has. Once he fit comfortably inside, completing me. As I grew and changed and found the me I’d lost, as he found himself, unfettered, I think we both found that the holes we filled in each other’s sense of self were much much bigger than they once were. I clawed at it, desperate to make it conform, making him crazy in the process, then pushing him away from me as far as he could run. In a sense, I both broke him and fixed him. I wanted US to work-I wanted my family to be whole, in a way I never had. I wanted an ideal to work, instead of us, the two real people who still feel a very warm affection for each other, who can still snicker like an echo at a joke. Two people who find that 12 years is very long indeed.
I’ve known for a long time that my love wasn’t how a spouse should love. I’ve pulled at it like taffy, wanting it to be more while he knew, with almost firm certainty, that he didn’t, that his love wasn’t the love that burns. All things break in time. All things die.
His arms may still be warm, but they’re no longer mine. And I mourn that, the sheer visceral need for his body next to mine, that which initially drew me in, how my body and mind seemed to know him before I did, how he drew fire across my skin.
I cry at the loss of that heat. There’s no contentment in this dream.