Such beauty was there. I lived each moment trying to capture it, like wild fireflies dancing in the night - and me, a wide eyed child chasing after them, breathless, suspended in joy, and hoping I could keep them forever, locked in a jar.
Then, silence. And I disappeared for awhile.
I didn’t want to write the ugly things. I did not want the ugly things to be real.
Should ugliness be real, beautiful dreams - the selfish dreams, the unrelenting desire, the incessant hunger, the yearning for light - all the dreams were really dead. They sighed to me, one last breath before defeat.
The dark called out to me, stripped of dreams, clinging to hope - it grabbed my arms, shook my being, and yelled into my face “I exist, too.”
And I ignored it for awhile.
I fought the dark and refused to surrender.
I traveled across the world, on a search for myself and for beautiful things. You see, I was so sure that I - me, the one that dreamt, and believed in beauty - still existed. I was so sure beautiful things were real - more real I suppose, than anything else, because you see, “beautiful” I could feel and darkness, ugliness, the cold silence of the pitch black night, I had managed not to feel for what seemed like a long time.
And I thought I had won.
Grief happened. And so too, mourning came to rear its head. And I felt guilty, because I didn’t think the grief was mine to have. And maybe it wasn’t, and maybe it still isn’t, but I still cried, and I felt the break - the pieces of me, the pieces of him, the pieces of all of us - I felt us break. And I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
So I traveled across the world, holding onto scraps of who I could’ve been, hoping I could be that person again.
I saw my aunt while I was there. The marble tile of her grave glistened in the hot tropical sun. And I cried for her, for the first time, after nine years of denying myself a chance to say good bye. You see, at some point I had convinced myself that death was just a concept. Yes, we all die, but so? Where do you go? And who are you when you’re gone? And what of your skin, bones, beating heart, dreaming mind, aching soul? Where do they go? Who are they? What do they become?
And I left that question, in front of my aunt’s casket, so many years ago, and I told myself it didn’t matter - because that wasn’t her. And I wouldn’t cry.
But what I didn’t understand at the time - what I probably don’t understand now - is that loss reverberates. It ripples through the waters, chipping away at those of us who thought we could bottle up light, and keep it forever.
But I still loved her.
So love remained.
I thought about returning to the Earth. Our bodies turning to dust, and the Earth living on.
I thought about my own death, and the ones who went before me. And I looked over my grandmother’s land in the soft daylight of a rising sun. And I thought, how beautiful this is, to return to this, this beautiful place on which many hopes and dreams had passed through the night. So too, many hopes and dreams withered away here, and life, it still remained.
Did it remain because we loved it? Did life cling to this land because there was love there?
I met a woman who knew my mother, my aunt, and all their brothers. Her wrinkled skin and silver white hair, and still, a light in her eyes. She could laugh and she could dance, and she seemed to love me I think. She didn’t know me, she had never met me, and she seemed to love me still.
And I wondered, how did love remain?
Over decades, over oceans, over war and fear and dark. Over rolling mountains, and endless seas. Over life and time and all that passses us - how did love remain?
I laid awake. And I let life happen before me. And I refused to dream. You see, life was like a dream. I had felt love - I was sure. And I had felt loss. Yes. But for a moment, loss, the reverberating sound of love passing in the night, seemed like the only real thing.
And then, I lost myself. Love, lost. And I lost.
And for a moment, darkness won.
I begged, for days, for nights, for sleepless, endless, dreamless nights. I begged the dark to let light exist too. And I couldn’t eat. My body felt empty - physically, mentally, emotionally - empty. I leapt into the void, and I felt it, because - I don’t know why - a hopeless, dreamless, sleepless me wanted to know the void for what it was.
So I looked into it’s wretched face and I dared it to overtake me. I dared it to reduce me into nothing, so that I could see, what would remain when it was all stripped away?
And many days passed. And many nights, I struggled to sleep. And then the days blurred with the nights, my watch stopped ticking, and so did I.
Awake I stayed. Naively, I reasoned with the dark. And I begged again, please let light exist.
And after four days, the dark convinced me that I didn’t exist. It told me nothing was real, not even me, not my life, and not the things I loved.
And I broke. The darkness broke me. And I cried. My body shook, my breath fell empty, my eyes begged to close, and I did all but scream so to not wake my sleeping husband.
And then I remembered. I remembered how much I loved him. I remembered how he filled all my darkness with his light. I remembered how he pieced together a me that was broken - not quite like this - but he did. He picked up the broken pieces, of a poor child that wanted love to be real. And he looked into my crying eyes, and I remembered he said, “I love you.” And I remembered, how once I had confessed all the dark ugly things to this beautiful person, and I felt vulnerable and feared he would be scared. I remembered laying in bed with him, years ago, crying, telling him the dark and ugly things, and we sat in silence.
And still, he looked at me, and said, “I love you.”
And love, remained.
I knew then, the dark was real. I knew in that moment that the void had pulled me in. But in the void, love cannot exist. And I knew then, it was because love was bigger. And love was stronger. And love could outlive even death itself.
And I knew, sleeping peacefully in our bed on the other side of a bathroom door, laid a man, a real one of flesh and bone, who dreamed still, and hoped still, and believed life could really be good. And I knew he was real.
And I knew our love was real, too.
Even if I wasn’t real, even if nothing was, I knew. Even in the dark, in the endless void that stole my dreams, I knew.
And I laid there, empty. Body empty. Heart, broken. And I accepted Love could be real.
I woke up, as myself, almost three days later. Fed, rested, yes, medicated too.
And I called my husband, from a hospital phone, and I told him I loved him. And I smiled for the first time, in a very long time. And I heard his voice say, “I love you, too.”
And our love remained. So I did, too.