As soon as the sun falls to rest every night you’re awakened by a sea of thoughts deeper than the Atlantic; “yet another sleepless night”, you think to yourself. Lying in bed, your lungs begin to swell as they gasp for air. It seems as though you are losing your will with every breath you take. You swallow hard but your throat is as tight in knots and your saliva, thick as tar. Your palms are clammy and your legs seem like unsteady, great, trembling bridges. You take a deep and revitalizing breath in and slowly release it as you close your eyes tightly. Your eye lashes begin to clump together as the very first tear escapes from your eye, as a great quake can scar the landscape; the tear scars your face. Your hand rushes up to wipe it away as fast as possible; not willing to show a single sign of the degradation of your strength. The warm, moist, salty residue soaks into your fingertips. You sit up and stare into the mirror directly in front of you. So many thoughts are flying through your brain you cannot keep up with them. You question your existence and everything about the world around you. You wonder why it happened but mostly you wonder why it happened to you. You squint your eyes and try to look past your wet and obscured vision, the light distorts through the tears into a distressing beacon that is as equidistant from your broken soul as ever before. When your eyes finally receive a clear image, you cringe at the truth. This is reality.
You unlock your tired eyes from the mirror and you step down from the bed staggering, feeling as if you’re wading through water. Your knees are concrete and your feet are weights; weighing you down every step, forcing you to use to the wall to support you as move towards the stair case. You slowly descend, grasping tightly onto the railing until you reach the bottom step. By then you’ve regained your balance.
You grab the keys sitting on your counter and reach for your wallet. Before you leave you open the wallet and see the picture. His smile takes your breath away. Not because he is gone, but because of the absurdity that a smile that contagious and that strong could be covering up such hard ship and depression. His eyes stare back in a manner that touches your soul. Your stomach begins to drop through your feet. His eyes. They once seemed so innocent so happy. His eyes; they told so many lies. His red hat sits propped up on his well shaved head. “He loved his hats”, you think to yourself. Not even tears are strong enough to reflect the devastation that you feel at this point. Your heart begins to beat through your ears and pulses vigorously throughout your body. You gasp for air, the only lifeline you can depend upon, but no amount ever seems sufficient enough. At this point sobbing is an understatement.
You close your wallet and head out to your car. You turn the key in the ignition and the car roars to life. A cool breeze flows through the vent and brushes your cheek. Your clammy hands grip firmly onto the black leather steering wheel leaving an oily smudge when you shift your hands to reverse out of the drive way. Your tears hit your lap as fast as the rain hits your windshield.
You don’t where you’re going but you’re running away… fast. Running away from the pain and from the past. But no matter how far you drive it follows you like a shadow at noon. You reach the first stop sign and release the gas to push down the brake as the car softly comes to a halt. You look left and then right. You sit there for couple seconds hoping that maybe, if you wait a little longer, then just maybe a car might hit you and release you from life’s traumatic reality. That maybe it’ll send you above the stars. That maybe, it will send you to him.
The headlights behind you disturb your thoughts, your body is sent leaning towards the center of the car, as the wheels skid the ground in a firm right turn. Your foot hits the gas hard. You’ve travelled this route many times before. The pedal smashes against the floor as you soar down the street. Oblivious to your speed, 10 km over, 30 km over, 50 km over… You reach the metal green gate lit up by a street light above. “Lakeview Cemetery”.
You slow the car down as your heart chambers wrestle for space within your chest. You enter the green gate, not thinking, not breathing, not moving. Your foot has frozen onto the gas and your arms reflect the rigor of those beneath you. You reach the furthest grey corner and shift the car into park. You try to push open the door but your body is as weak as a child. You step down to the ground disturbing the manicured rocks underneath your feet. You close the door slowly and stare in disbelief. Your ears pop as your eyes lock on the writing.
Moving among the tombs, you stop. 1995-2011 is carved into the stone. You clench your jaw and swallow hard as you crash to your knees. The moon and the stars seem to be the only thing awake at this hour, hidden by the rain clouds, but appearing every now and then taunting your dark thoughts with their luminescent glow. You reach out to touch the stone and drag your hand across its rugged edge, leaving a tear stained scar along its surface. Your stomach twists, turns, and trembles. A small whimper escapes your pursed lips and echoes throughout the cemetery. You lay on your back embedding yourself into the dirt. Your tears mix in with the falling rain as you close your eyes. You breathe in softly and whisper your unsaid goodbyes.
It’s been two years now.
Back home, you lie in bed as your lungs rise and fall with every breath you take. You sit yourself up and stare into the mirror directly in front of you and smile. You pick up the framed picture sitting beside your bed. Your fingers have a familiarity with smooth and polished woody texture that protects the picture. You drag your thumb across it removing the dust that has been building up around the edges. You take a long look at the image trying to retain every single detail like you have many times before. You embrace the picture in your arms.
Time heals all wounds. Your cuts have healed, but they have left scars. Your tears have dried, but you can still see the pain when you look into your eyes. Sleep no longer refreshes, but roils with nightmares. Time heals all wounds they told you, but what they didn’t tell you is that a broken heart will never be the same. The wholeness of your person is chipped; pieces scatter like dust in the wind and like a childhood puzzle, you will always be missing a piece.