She is leaving me and I am powerless. Nothing I can say or do will change it. Like leaves from autumn trees, my words fall away into nothing and scatter to the winds. I am left bereft of comfort. Everywhere I look there are bags and boxes of her things, ready for departure.
‘Charity shop,’ she says shortly, pointing at a large box.
‘What’s in it?’ I ask.
‘Books,’ she replies.
‘But you hate getting rid of books,’ I protest.
‘I’m not going to read them again. Let someone else enjoy them.’
‘And what about this?’ I ask looking at her beautiful winter coat that she bought only last year.
‘I’ll not need it.’
She has no time for sentimentality. Just practicalities. Does she think about her future? Does she think about my future? I’m too afraid to ask. But I think about it and I can’t find any comfort because I can’t envisage her future and see only emptiness in mine. A refrain runs through my thoughts: Why? Why now? Why ever? Why are you going? Why are you leaving?
My mind turns over and over all the times we shared: wonderful times; good times; bad times - yes, of course we had our share of those - and sad times, but nothing like the past few months. Nothing that went before was ever as bad as these past few months that are now ripping us apart.
On the outside everything looked as normal and happy as usual but the insidious power of destruction worked secretly in silence and now it has burst the banks of its containment. First she knew, then I knew and now everybody knows. My own fears, long suppressed have been given voice and I must face up to my lonely life without her. I want longer to adjust but it’s happening with a speed that I cannot comprehend.
‘Please stay.’ Sometimes I think it, sometimes I whisper it, sometimes I say it out loud and sometimes I scream it. ‘Stay, for God’s sake, stay with me. Don’t leave me.’ She looks at me with an expression I cannot read, and I know my words are useless.
When she leaves, she does so with the minimum of fuss. I say ‘I love you, I’ll always love you.’ The words I’ve used many times before. Once they made her agree to marry me, but now they cannot prevent her from leaving me. She looks at me and whispers ‘I know…’ and then she is gone.
And now time has passed and I look around me. The place is empty of her and her belongings, except the few mementos she left behind. All I have is memories. Photos and precious memories of her. I am trying to make sense of how cancer can change life to death. I hurt so much but only because I loved in equal measure.
Lindsay Bamfield is a founder member of Greenacre Writers. www.lindsaybamfield.blogspot.com