No matter what happened to me, no matter how bad, how painful, or how unexpected—I had a secret weapon. I had Karen In My Corner. She not only loved me, I suppose there are lots of people who might claim that, but she was right there for me, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and an absolute fount of strength that she could share to shore me up. I posted a few days ago that grief is having a lot of love with no place to go, and it is that. But for me, that’s not the real place of pain. The reason I feel so isolated, alone, and defeated is that the woman who was my cheerleader, my admirer, my lover, my best friend, and the one who convinced me that I was worthy of love—she is gone, forever, permanently, no coming back, ever. Growing up, I was convinced that I was unworthy of love, and it took Karen almost fifteen years to turn that around. When you don’t love yourself, it is very hard to love someone else the way they deserve to be loved. Karen had some hard years with me and probably should have left, but she loved me with a love more than love. I once asked her why she didn’t dump me. She said she talked to God about it, a lot. Seems that God convinced her that together we were going to do some important things and that I was just going through a little “crazy” phase. She said that once she understood that, she was just always there for me. Over and over she would tell me, as late as just a month or so ago, she would do it all over again exactly as we did it without changing a single second. In a heartbeat, she said. You see, that’s what has gone—I’m a tree house whose tree has disappeared, nothing left to hold me up.
You cannot replace someone whose face lit up when you entered the room, someone who would ignore her painful joints to fix breakfast for you. There is no one to ask how I am and really mean it like she did. She knew all the subtle tells that I was depressed and would never let me stay down. She would never try to talk me out of my blues, but she wouldn’t let me be alone, either. She was my Prozac in the form of a gentle touch, just sitting by my side, suggesting coffee on the back porch, and a look that told me she knew exactly how I was feeling and was hurting for me. I can’t replace that. It’s like I have a broken leg and someone has taken my crutches. I can still sort of get around but not without pain and a lot of discomfort. I see a piece of art or hear some choral music and turn to see if she is liking it, but she isn’t there, not anymore. I miss her singing. She had a great alto voice and sang in choirs from junior high, high school, college, and once even sang Durufle's “Requiem” under the direction of Andre Previn. We heard Verdi’s “Requiem” at Carnegie Hall, and she talked about it for years. Every Easter, we would take some time to just be together and would sit holding hands and listening to the entire “Messiah” by Handel. Now, if I hear a song I know she loved, I just start crying. I don’t see how this could help anybody else, and it hasn’t helped me much, but it did—just a little.