I call this spot my “dark place.” It’s that mental space I rarely indulge – my most private, sacred area. The place where TC lives. Not the TC with the trach tube and the sunken skull. Or the TC that unknowingly calls me “mom” everyday. Not the TC who barely tips the scale at 140 lbs and struggles to write down his own name. It’s the place where the old TC lives. The TC I married.
He’s the one who took care of everyone in his life. The one we bothered with every math and science related question because he always, always knew the answer. The husbaind who lives in this space made a point to spoil me everyday. He would bring home cupcakes to celebrate a positive teacher evaluation. He would cook vegetarian/vegan/kale based meals even though he loved red meat because he knew I’d refuse to eat anything outside of whatever crazy dietary restrictions I was self-imposing at the moment. He would single handedly manage the morning routine with the baby and dog so that I could get to work two hours early to feel well prepared. He massaged my back every day of my pregnancy, managed all the household chores, and planned extensively for our financial future. He loved my passion for teaching despite the fact that it always made more work for him at home and we rarely spent quality time together on the weekdays. He not only offered to help me grade papers and make Excel documents, he was actually excited to help me put together my classroom at the beginning of the school year. In fact, this was one of the final things we did together on the day of his assault.
I call this my dark place because these memories are so visceral and so powerful that the longing I feel for the old TC quite literally paralyzes my heart. I miss this man and everything about him and if I indulge in these feelings for even a moment too long, I crumble. This battle is too long, too hard, and too scary. Remembering my husband as he used to be only breaks down all the armor I have gathered in the past two months.
But it so tempting. All I want to do is close my eyes and remember for a brief second what it used to feel like as he slept next to me. I want to replay every moment of our last conversations just to hear his old voice: clear, strong and confident, so different from the one I hear now.
I want to imagine what the old TC would say if he could watch me struggling to carry this enormous load. He would be horrified to recognize the stress it has caused. He would be heartbroken to watch me so constantly heartbroken. He would take it all away in a millisecond and fix it himself while I enjoyed a long, quiet nap.
This person may return to me one day. I choose to believe that because it’s the only thought that keeps me motivated to fight. But it doesn’t help me miss him any less. This man I married was extraordinary. He gave me a beautiful life and everything I asked for. I owe him all of this in return, so I must honor him by refusing to crumble, by continuing to fight, by restoring everything he had worked so hard for.
With that, I close the door to the dark place, push aside these many memories, and remind myself that I can only look forward.