The Tenuous Gap

I walked to a familiar place and she was there. Ten years old, not a care in the world. Happy, bubbly, effervescent. I tried to keep from hugging her every second because I knew what she did not: I knew her existence was impossible. Even asleep I knew. It could never last long enough. But I didn’t want to act like I knew for fear something would change.

She glided – her full, long hair bouncing as we walked. We talked about everything and nothing. She held my hand innocently – that little hand threading itself into mine. I felt a stillness and a stirring love, immutable passion toward this thing that was and is no more. This family, forever changed. Still living, breathing, loving… but different than before. My restless soul felt peace.

Friends came to us and marveled because they knew what she did not. And I asked, “Do you see her? Am I crazy?”

They affirmed her presence and we strolled on. Blissfully and mercifully we strolled on.

And then, she left. As quickly as she came, she is gone and I am awake immediately. Morning light peeks around black curtains facing east. I roll onto my back and blink away tears because she is gone. Gone.

The distance between her visits has been too long. I lay awake, cursing the cruel ceiling that won’t let my mind drift back to sleep. It can’t rest now. It is focused – those bygone days of completeness… that little hand threading itself into mine. Long minutes pass. Cursing rolls to acceptance of what cannot be changed and the dream that will not be resurrected. I am keenly aware that the pillow is wet, past damp, it is wet. Are the tears rolling down my face of longing? Or are they tears of happiness? Because for a moment, for just a brief moment I felt it all! The hope… the love… the completeness… the sadness of loss.

“I love being here with them, but I hate being here without her.”

Without her is the way we now live. When loss digs its heals into one’s soul, life becomes a struggle to find stasis. There is a tenuous gap between happiness and sadness. The two are intertwined. Happiness is a possibility, sadness inevitable and thus there exists a fight for the zero point while being pulled at both ends – the little flag on a tug-of-war rope. Most grievers would say that happiness is the underdog. It never wins for long.

I am a griever. Yet I am a dreamer, too. I dream, and she is there. And I am happy for a moment. Eventually I must wake up and pull the rope against the big brute of sadness for my share of happiness – however small the portion. I will pull. I will smile. I will win… at times. I will also lose. But until my dying day I will pull. For even a fleeting victory is worth the struggle.

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