Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Fixed Point in My Surreal World

Dear John,
 
I'm realizing how much of my life feels completely surreal these days. My head knows this is reality, but it doesn't feel that way.
 
I know that I'm a widow, but when I say it, it feels completely unreal. I don't know why. Like all married women, I knew I would most likely be a widow one day. Your health history made it even more likely. But to say, "I am a widow" seems unbelievable. Maybe it's just that being your wife has been so central to my identity. If I'm your widow instead of your wife, my existence is called into question. But either way I'm still your something - a large part of me is still defined by my relationship to you. So that hasn't changed.
 
Being here still feels surreal. I remember one summer evening years ago, when we were watching a Little League baseball game here in Topeka. I realized there was a corn field behind me and cows grazing beyond the outfield fence. I remember thinking, "Where am I, and how did I get here?" After all, I grew up in Atlanta. Living in a town of 1200 people was not on my radar. I had a moment of complete disorientation that night. Occasionally I still feel that jolt of shock and disorientation at the difference between where I am and where I came from. I love it here - I hope to leave this house for the last time in Yeager's hearse. But sometimes the unexpectedness of it hits me.
 
And then there's the most surreal statement of all: I have a cat. Saying the words "my cat" is shocking. Being here at home with the little critter feels very natural. But state the fact in words, and it sounds completely unreal. Hunter can live here, but I cannot possibly have a cat. What an outlandish idea.
 
Sometimes living with these impossibilities is a bit overwhelming. I wander on my disoriented, baffled way, and come here and talk to you every night. This is the one fixed point in my universe. And I mean that in all seriousness. This is the only thing I do that feels normal and believable. Thank you for listening, for providing the only point of reference I have. In a way, I'm clinging to you to help me make sense of everything else. Thank you for that.
 
Confusedly yours,
Joan.
 


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