Never. I have used the word without considering its finality. It was just another word; a throw-away term for an abstract concept. But today, on the second anniversary of my wife’s death, I understand it. My understanding did not occur suddenly this morning, but today my comprehension is especially acute.
The realization that my eyes have seen my late wife for the last time. That I have heard her voice for the last time. That I have embraced her for the last time. That I have comforted her for the last time. I will never see or hear or touch her again. She and I will never laugh together again. We will never celebrate an anniversary together again. Nor a birthday. Nor anything else. Nothing, ever again. Never. Never is eternal emptiness. Eternal absence. Eternal impossibility. Never. Never. Never.
Apparently, the pain of losing her will never recede. That aching anguish is no different today than it was a year ago, nor any different than it has been every day since. This morning, though, it surfaces more thoroughly. It is not as muffled by the distractions of daily life; today, the calendar insists I again face the reality of never.
A year ago, on the first anniversary of her death, I wrote a post I entitled Today is Immeasurably Sad But Beautiful. The emotions I felt when I wrote those words remain just as raw. But I feel the same appreciative happiness, too. The collision between immense grief and satisfaction creates a level of chaos impossible to describe; I will not bother to try. I will let myself feel what I feel, despite the fact that my self-pitying grief is selfish. I will accept my selfishness today. I really have no other choice.