"Where you used to be, there's a hole in the world, where I constantly find myself walking around it in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell..." -- Edna St. Vincent Millay
We had the funeral mass for Mrs. Overlord today.
Afterwards, there was a gathering, a luncheon, where all sat around in maudlin remembrance of who once was and who no longer is.
I've had far too much of this, already, because it's all I've done all by myself for the last week.
There are bad things that happen to you when a loved one passes. Most are unavoidable. There is always grief and sadness, and a million tiny things that spark memories, and if you're lucky, the memories are mostly good, but invariably the bad ones manifest, as well.
This is where the sense of loss begins; it's not the major stuff, the milestones or the successes, that define the lives of two people who have spent thirty six years loving one another. Rather, it is the smallest things, things you hardly think about, that you find you miss the most.
I will never get, nor give, another "first kiss of the day".
There will never be another quiet time where absolutely nothing is happening, you're not even speaking, and yet you're not surprised to discover that you've been holding hands for the last hour.
No more playful pats on the backside as you pass one another in hallway or kitchen.
No more words or phrases that only mean something to the two of you.
No more private jokes.
I will never hear "I love you" -- and know beyond all doubt that she means it -- again.
It seems to me that it is these small, seemingly insignificant or routine moments, that constitute true life.
And true love.
Thirty six years is a long time to be in love with someone. Old habits become difficult to break.
Although I always have referred to her as "Mrs. Overlord", we were never married.
We dated as teenagers. It was the most-intense relationship I have ever had with a woman. We simply could not stand to be parted for any length of time (even sometimes just overnight: the Overlord back then worked a lot of night shifts). When together, well...let's just say clothing suddenly became optional, and there was nothing else that was a better idea than just lying together for hours on end, hugging, kissing, and...I'll leave it at that.
She captivated me. She mesmerized me. She loved me, she confounded me, she puzzled me, she amazed me. From the very first moment I ever saw her right down to the very last.
The relationship was very possessive. Sometimes it crossed the border into obsessive. For us both. And in a way that is probably predictable for a couple of youngins like we were, eventually the problems would enter, no one was quite sure how to handle them like adults, and things suddenly got very messy.
It went back and forth, on and off, for many years. There were times we absolutely could have killed one another, but heaven forbid someone else should ever have you. We kept getting back together. And breaking up. And getting back together again, for something like 10 years.
Until one day Mrs. Overlord announced that she was getting married to someone else.
It wasn't like I hadn't asked 10,000 times, or anything.
And even though she was engaged, we couldn't stay away from one another. I am not ashamed of the fact, nor will I ever apologize for it, that we saw each other -- frequently -- right up until the time she got married.
One evening she called me. She was afraid of the whole marriage thing. It was a big step in her life, and she didn't know if she was ready for it.
It was clear what was happening: she was trying to make certain, as always, that if she decided to not go through with it, I would still be there for her. Above all things what she got from me was security. She always knew she could depend upon me, for anything and everything. That's what kept her coming back all those years.
She was asking me to give her an excuse not to get married. She wanted ME to talk HER out of doing it. The lightbulb went on -- I was Plan B.
I wasn't going to accept being Plan B, and so I told her that I didn't care if she got married, didn't get married, whatever, but she had taken a ring and she had made a promise to someone and she had a responsibility to him. I wasn't doing this any longer and I didn't want to be involved.
She got married, of course, and when that happened, I made no attempt to interfere with or insinuate myself into her life. I left her alone. I never bothered to find her, or even look for her. I didn't even know her married name. Mutual friends knew never speak to me of her. For all intents and purposes, it was if she had simply disappeared from the face of the Earth, and I went on with my life.
Sixteen years later I was searching for the obituary of a friend in the local paper, only to be disappointed in not finding it. And so it was off to the internet to search out said death announcement.
And then something incredible happened.
The funerary listserve I was using spit out a list of names based on the parameters I had entered (that's not the amazing part); right below my friend's name was another one. A familiar name.
It was Rosemarie's father's name.
This can't be the same guy, right? But it was. And his obituary had a bunch of links attached to it.
And this was when I had discovered that Rosemarie had lost her father, sister, brother, father-in-law, and husband...
All within 18 months.
Now, We Overlords had a very serious habit of never, ever abandoning one another if the other one was ever in serious trouble. My Rosemarie always had my back. She was always my greatest defender, protector, and champion, even when things were totally rotten between us.
I had to find her.
And find her I did. And discovered that she had lived on the other side of the hill from me for all those years. I could literally walk to her house from mine.
I found her phone number and left her a message. If there was anything I could do for her, anything she needed, or if she just wanted a familiar face and voice to comfort and help her, I was here.
To my surprise she returned the call. To my even greater surprise, her mother-in-law told her to make the call (a wonderful woman. I loved her, too. I often wished she had been my own mother).
A few phone conversations. A meeting is arranged.
And we're 19, again.
A few months later she asked if I would move in with her. She had this big house and she was all alone in it, and we had fallen in love again, so why not?
A year later, the Muscular Dystrophy began to go to work, in earnest. She was getting sicker and weaker and needed all I could ever give her.
I was devoted to her for the next 10 years. Every day, 24 hours a day. I saw to all of her needs, I nursed her when she was sick, I even stopped working to create a business that I could run from home because she couldn't be left alone.
There were many hospital stays. Many medications and therapies to apply. Days weeks and months of sitting at bedsides, sleeping on cold hospital floors, traveling what seemed a billion miles a day to rehab centers. An external oxygen supply became her constant companion.
And I loved her still. She was still 19. She was still My Angel.
And then I lost her. There was never any hope of winning the fight, but we fought it all the same. right to the very last second when her heart gave out.
With her last breaths, she thanked me.
Thank me? You don't thank me for this: this is what you do when you love someone. This wasn't a favor, it was your entitlement. You earned it. You needed it and I gladly gave it.
No, I told her. It was me who should be thanking her. She gave me everything.
So a beautiful woman was taken from me this past week. It has been absolute hell. I haven't felt this low, ever, and I'm betting it's going to get far worse before I'm finally sort-of-kind-of alright.
The Absolute Worst, however, to this point has been the constant stream of well-meaning, but truly-fucking-stupid people who pour forth meaningless religious claptrap like a broken sewer pipe.
God doesn't give you more than you can handle, you see. He's testing you. He's putting you through a process, which although painful, will eventually make you a better person. You'll see: you'll be stronger, more faithful. He is just, merciful and loving.
Which makes absolutely zero fucking sense.
In order to make me a better person, God had to kill someone else? So much for just, loving and merciful.
We never took the vow of "for better or for worse..." , but we've lived it.
I was reminded of an incident that occurred some time ago, after one of her hospital stays, when she returned home and suddenly decided she needed a little religion in her life. She asked me to call the parish priest to come by and bless her, and me, and the house, and everything in it, and the trees outside, and the fucking birds in the air, and so on and so forth. I hated the idea, thought no good would come from it, but she wanted and needed it, so I did it.
Father Jackass arrives (we were both raised Catholic) and during the course of our conversation, it emerges that she and I are cohabitating without the benefit of the sacrament of marriage.
Father Fucktard is annoyed.
Father Asshole informs Rosemarie that he cannot give her communion until she confesses her sin.
Rosemarie informs Father Child Molester that she doesn't think we're sinning. We love one another and we're taking care of one another. There's nothing wrong with that.
Father Cocksucker is incensed. He repeats his threat to withhold communion until she confesses her sin.
And true to form, My Rosemarie put this pompous windbag right in his place.
She told him she found his argument interesting and appreciated his expression of his opinion.
Now he could get the fuck out of her house.
"We will never set foot in that church again, Matty", she told me.
And so we didn't. Even though that church was next door to the funeral home, I chose one on the other side of the island to hold her funeral rites today.
The so-called Christian Pieties make me sick. People talk about them constantly, but I have LIVED them these last ten years. Every. Single. Minute. I don't need your lectures or your flabby platitudes. I know you mean well, but please, stop it.
I don't wish to hear them, anymore.
I only want to hear my Angel's voice again.
Unfortunately, I will never get the latter, and for the foreseeable future, I'm liable to only get a steady supply of nothing but the former.