We are time’s subjects and time bids be gone. [Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2]
I took this picture when I went to Andalucía in February. I walked the same mountain trail several times. Clinging to a ledge at its highest point, was the twisted remnant of a tree, blasted by lightning. The sunlight glinted on its stark beauty; its limbs framed the living mountains. But its hollowed trunk was quite empty. Its charred branches would never bud or blossom again.
Until Matara, I felt alive, though living in a kind of void. I poured my love and energy into creating a glorious celebration of Chris’s life. What I hadn’t realised was that when it ended, so too would the magical thinking that was keeping Chris alive inside me.
When all her pictures were taken down, her journals packed away, and the stuff of her life disassembled, the void in which I had been living entered my body and hollowed me out.
For the first time, I felt empty inside.
When I realise that she has truly gone, I can’t stand up. I fall to the kitchen floor and howl like a wounded animal. Words escape my mouth, unbidden: “What’s the point? What’s the fucking point?”
Teddy rushes over and shoves his chops in mine. He licks the snot and tears from my face, bathes me in his hot sweet breath, and worms his furry body as close to mine as possible. I put my arms around him and weep into his neck. He wuffles and grunts as if to say: “It’s OK boss. I’m here.”
We’re a pack (albeit a pack of two) and he knows that’s what you do when a member of your pack is in that kind of trouble. The emptiness recedes and I slowly come back to life.
I give Teddy a hug and rub his coat. He slips out of my arms and wanders off into the garden to lie in wait for the postman. The kettle boils. I make a cup of tea and sit at the table, cradling the mug in both hands.
“I’m still here,” I think. “She’s gone but I’m still here.”
It’s enough for now.