Today was horrible. It started just fine with me sitting outside watching the fundi lay the cement for our little addition. I just glanced down at my smartphone and saw a picture of a woman kissing a man. That was all it took. It was like I had been hit in the solar plexus with a homerun swing by a baseball bat. I had to jump up and rush inside, bent almost double by the pain—not from my stomach infection but from grief. I’m calling it a grief spasm (don’t know if that’s a real term, but it’s what it was). I was suddenly hit with a wave of sadness that almost brought me to tears: I missed Karen’s kisses. The pain was sharp and raw and fresh and seemed to come from out of nowhere. How, after two months, did I still feel such intense pain that it took my breath away and made me feel like I’d been hit by bus? I had had the sudden realization that I would never again feel the love of my life kiss me and fill me with that sudden surge of love that always came with even her most casual kiss. She used to kiss me three or four times a day; I just never realized that each kiss was like having a gulp of air while I was drowning. She kept me alive with those kisses.
My self image has always been very low, but her kisses convinced me that I was worth something—worthy of the love of one of the most wonderful women in the world. Living a very lonely life as I do now, I realized that there is no one who wants to kiss me. Even Sissie, our dog, will only lick my nose (she thinks it’s important to keep my nose clean). I never really knew or understood how vital, how potent, how affirming it was for her to want to kiss me and to do it several times a day. I’ll never know why she loved me so, but I know I never deserved her love—or her kisses. I know that there are many people who live alone with no one to kiss them, either. I’m guessing (and hoping) they have a better self image than mine, and it isn’t such a potentially lethal void in their lives. Hopefully, they have others who are near enough physically to keep them whole. But to suddenly realize that the source of the light in my life had been extinguished, forever, was just too much for me to bear. I had to hide so I could weep uncontrollably without scaring our workers or John. This is huge—a mountain that suddenly appeared in my path to normality, a mountain too high for this old body to climb. Never again? Never. Never will I hear her say, “Incoming,” as she leaned down to kiss me while I was reading or working on my computer. It always brought a smile to my soul and lightened the pull of gravity on my heart, but it’s gone now and can never be replaced. She not only kissed me several times a day but never missed an opportunity to touch me such that her love for me flowed through her fingers and sent shivers through my soul. How do I go on breathing when the air isn’t there? Why this came so suddenly, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been too busy fighting to stay alive to have understood just how completely and utterly my feelings of worth have evaporated. The grief spasm hit like the scene in a movie where a hole suddenly appears in an airplane in flight and everything is sucked out into nothingness.
It’s been hours and hours and only now can I even sit down and write about it (have to take weeping breaks). As nice as it has been to get messages of comfort and encouragement from friends all over the world, nothing can replace the feel of her lips on mine that conveyed so much of her love, admiration, and respect. There is too much here to which she dedicated her life and worked through her pain to accomplish for me to abandon that work. I will stay, and I will work, but for me, I know that I may look like a stove, but the pilot light has gone out—never to be relit.
Just to have one last kiss . . . but that is not to be.