Saturday, May 5, 2012
A Minefield of Memories
I wake up slowly in the morning, waiting to open my eyes until I absolutely need to. The morning light should bring hope of a new and exciting adventure, but instead it brings me fear as I dread another day spent in the field. As I roll over and off my bed, I place my feet carefully, cautiously on the floor, remembering that even in the relative safety of my apartment, anything can happen. Looking for my slippers, a sudden roar fills my ears and I know that I have inadvertently set off the first mine of the day. As I hit the floor, memories wash over me. Our first Christmas. He wore those cute pajama pants over so he would keep with the theme of my family all in our pajamas. Opening the gift of slippers. Him bending down, lovingly sliding them on my feet. I shake my head as the noise dies down into a dull ringing in my ears, stand up, and shuffle to the kitchen to make my morning coffee. I'm still not fully awake but I try to keep my eyes fixed on the floor, watching every step as I try to avoid another explosion. I fill the coffee pot with water, then begin to scoop out the grounds. Boom. The lingering smell of coffee was always around him. Laughing together in the coffee shop - the one that we joked never smelled like coffee. His meticulous measuring, grinding, and brewing of the perfect cup of coffee.
I force myself to finish measuring and push the start button, all the while trying to shake the debris of this memory from my mind. I walk down the hallway to the bathroom, turning on the water to let it heat up while I try to decide on taking a bath or a shower. He always laughed at how much I loved baths. He would spend hours in the shower if he could. One time, he said he actually fell asleep standing in the shower. I slowly undress, being careful to fold my clothes as I step out of them. He never folded clothes. When I'm done with my shower, I climb out to get dressed and pause to look at myself in the mirror. He told me I was beautiful. I look through my closet, wondering what I could wear. The green one was his favorite shirt.
When I finally step out the door and head to class, I find myself wondering what waits for me. The sun is so bright, the grass so green, the birds so cheerful - how could hurt be ahead on such a beautiful day? He never walked these paths with me and I let my guard down as I wander my way to my first class. I smile at a girl as I pass her on the sidewalk. I used to talk to him on the phone on my way to class. Then, I spot a couple clearly in love, holding hands and laughing together. His laugh. I always stood to his right when we held hands. His hands were so strong and yet gentle. Gradually, I find that I am less careful with my walking as the pain becomes numbing. It's not even 8 in the morning and already I am wounded and want to curl back up in the warmth of my bed, away from the hurt.
The rest of the day is much the same. Campus is unpredictable, the mines changing every day. I find myself unable to avoid them, and over and over again my mind is filled with the dull roar of a detonation. He loved being outdoors. We wrote so many letters to each other while in class. I remember so many stories about his teachers. I always had his schedule memorized as well as my own. I wonder if he's in class right now. I wish I had him in my apartment to return to after class.
By the time I'm done with class and get back home, I am exhausted. It seems like these mines have been designed just for me, exploiting my weaknesses and finding the best places to hide so they can catch me by surprise. How do I learn to navigate an environment like this? I need so much sleep, so I have the energy to be always on edge, anticipating the next blow. Making dinner - I loved to cook for him. He learned to make the most delicious stir fry. We had such good conversations over our Sunday lunches. Jumping in my car to run errands - We spent so much time in this car and in his truck over the years. Talking, laughing, crying, praying. I would lie my head on his lap while drove and he would stroke my hair as I fell asleep. We went on road trips and "off-roading" even though our vehicles weren't made for that.
At last, I am done with this day and allowed to crawl into my bed. Surely this will be safe. Underneath my covers, face buried in my pillow, there are no memories to sneak up on me, no sights or places that will explode in my mind. And yet, like a soldier who has lost a limb, I feel phantom pains of the heart that once beat strongly in my chest. He said he loved you. He told you that you were the most precious person in the world to him. I cry out, but there is no drug that can take the edge off of my hurt. Eventually I fall asleep, only to wake up in a cold sweat - even sleep is not a sanctuary away from the memories. He called me 'my love'. He told me he looked forward to spending the rest of his life with me. Like a man who has lost all but his life on the battlefield, I do not find comfort in waking from these dreams, because the reality today is almost worse than the original experience. I find that my own mind is working against me, plotting ways to attack and further injure my already broken and weakened body and soul.
Every day, I walk this minefield. I don't want to - so often, I wish God would just take me home rather than let me experience this kind of fear, pain, and death in my life. I only pray that as time goes on, the mines will be less frequent, the explosions less deadly to my heart. Perhaps one day I will be able to walk in safety and freedom, not dreading each step but treasuring the breath in my lungs and the beating of the new heart I have received.