I sit and wait. What I am waiting for exactly, I do not know. No, that is not true. I just don't want to be waiting for it, so I push it as far away from me as I can and pretend it isn't lurking around some not-too-distant dark corner of my future.
Tears gather but I force them back, telling myself to save them for later when I will really need them. And need them I will. There will be dark days ahead, filled with a heavy silence that the world will never quite be able to drown out. There will be an emptiness. No one else will see it, but I know it will be there, and I will carry it around with me the rest of my days.
I remember when my oldest sister died. It's been almost 25 years, but those moments live on inside my mind. My parents, brother-in-law, brother and sisters, and I were all at the hospital. Waiting. Waiting for what we did not want to happen, hoping, praying that by some miracle it would not happen. I recall the nurse saying, "She has a strong heart." Even though she worked in the medical profession, I do not believe she was referring to the organ beating rhythmically inside my sister. Cindy was strong, determined, a fighter, and not ready to leave us. So we waited. Helplessly, we waited, like unwilling witnesses to a natural disaster, wanting to intervene but completely powerless to do so. I'm ashamed to admit, at some point I just wanted the waiting to be over. And then it was.
In the final moments, we knew the fight was over. As the monitor broadcast her decreasing heart rate, I walked to her side, touched her hand, and said goodbye. Then I walked out of the room. I couldn't bear to see her go.
I wasn't prepared for the silence that followed. That heavy, suffocating silence that comes when your world has irrevocably changed. You sense that life is going on around you, but you can't feel it or make sense of it. It's like in the movies when the only thing in focus is the character and everything around them becomes blurry and distorted. Instinctively, you move through your days, responding to people in what you hope to be an appropriate manner. But you are so hollow inside that nothing really sinks in, nothing fills you up, and you believe nothing ever will. Truth is, you are right. There is a part that will remain forever empty.
Today, I am there again. Waiting. Waiting for words I do not want to come. Waiting for a goodbye that I will not be able to bear. I don't know when it's coming. It may be months for all I know. But it's coming. Another natural disaster that I am powerless to stop. Only this time I know what will follow. So wait I will, and save my tears for another day.