...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A letter

Your drawing of who you are, from the UGL course you went to in Ånn, March 2006, a month after we started living together. (From top: The thinker -- different feelings -- a sleeping cat -- martial arts -- you and me in the center with hearts -- not knowing what to do with all your education -- and going in and out of the hospital).

My dearest, my loved one, my sweet sweet Marcus.

August 5, 2011.

We both don’t believe in afterlife, and yet for some reason it feels easier to pretend to address you in what I’m about to say. My blog entries are so thought out and, though not impersonal, were never really intimate. And I could never write otherwise about you.

It’s now been three days, and I must admit that it hadn’t gotten easier. My thoughts always go back to you. We both used to think it was hard enough just being separated by physical distance. We longed for each other, but we also knew with sweet anticipation that we would again soon meet (“and time better run fast!”). When you died, the saddest thing for me was to experience that time hadn’t stopped then either. I felt how my own life alone went on as the minutes passed – and how heavy and distinct the minute hand seemed to move! – separating me from you with each moment with a now uncrossable distance, and there wouldn’t be a seeing you again. Mornings are by far the worst time of the day for me. I feel devastated. Aside from the fact that you’re not here to curl up with me, I also soon realize that I have a day ahead in which you are nowhere to be found, and that tomorrow wouldn’t change things. We’re never going to see, touch, smell, or hear each other again, and that hurts me.

---

We were always aware of the shortness of life, somewhere in the background of our everyday living. You told me about your aplastic anemia early on, during our tour around Garisonen. The conversation itself was undramatic. When I read more about the disease, I realized that if we would be together as a couple – and how we wanted to be together so! – I would also have to be prepared to lose what I so love. You said it yourself, in one of your e-mails to me (dated August 10, 2006) after our first visit to the Philippines together and you had returned home. We waited to be reunited in Sweden after a month’s time.:

"Hello my love. I was just thinking about you as me and Per were watching some of the pictures from the Philippines. I know that this doesn’t help you very much, but I miss you, so terribly much. A big portion of every day is spent thinking of you. I imagine you in my arms, kissing; I try to imagine your warmth, your smell. You’re like a drug, a drug that I’m really hooked on. Being around you drives me crazy with happiness, being without you drives me crazy with longing. Oh, why can’t we be crazy and happy together now? Before I met you, I used to fantasize how it would be to love some unconditionally. In my fantasies, it would only be nice and good, I could never have imagined how love sticks together with pain like two sides of a coin. Sometimes, the price for our love seems to be quite high, but on the other hand, price is in this matter irrelevant. Like the drug addict, I would, without hesitation, pay anything for my fix. Joy I love you, so, so much."

To be with you, Marcus, I was also willing to pay any price. It was love almost at first sight (You’re gorgeous. I fall in love all over again seeing pictures of you from 2005, but I was even more impressed by you when we started talking, and I knew we fit like hand to glove). I would move to a distant country and leave behind my routines, friends and family – even an existing healthy boyfriend that I had before I met you – for a mortal man who made such a powerful impression on me and filled me with such awe. No matter how short our time would be together, I knew that you, unique you, was worth the plunge. I wanted your love and wanted to love you. I also wanted to care for you and make you happy. I don’t regret ever choosing you. You’re the best. You know that because I said it to you so many times. Together, we were crazy with happiness. But you were right, too: the other side of loving deep is a deep pain. There’s really no answering the question “why” when it comes to a death, but why couldn’t we be happy and crazy together right now too?

At times, we talked about how it would be to lose each other to Death. You were never afraid of death itself. The dead can’t help but being dead after all; their own demise does not affect them. But the awareness of dying was another thing. The consequence of one of us dying is an unwilling and forceful separation in which the living would suffer more and longer, and you knew this. It wouldn’t matter if we lived a hundred years more, you used to say. No amount of time will ever be enough for our love, and there lies the pain of separation that will be hurtful at any age. Sometimes, we would hold each other so tight, wishing that we could be so close to each other and meld into one being where there is both a you and a me. Separation is so unfair, when no one wills it.

---
Another one of your drawings from the course you went to in March 2006. (A cliff, probably with alligators and not knowing where to go -- taking the jump into the uncertain and finding yourself happy on a higher level)


Day 4.

Love and pain is one binary; dying and living is another.

This autumn would have been 6 years to the time we met and fell in love. Autumn would also have been five years since the day we exchanged engagement rings in this very couch I sit and write, and one and a half years since our wedding day. We lived those six years intensely. You really knew how to make the most out of life. Our small living space and meager funds at the start weren’t even an issue for living well. We genuinely felt that we were living a better life than most people, not least because we had found our life’s love in each other, and we created lots of happy memories. It was always a good life, also despite the many interruptions in the form of hospitalizations, treatments and health setbacks which, through the years and the progression of the disease, seemed to interrupt more frequently and predictably, like receiving post in the mailbox. Somewhere inside us, we hoped that we could buy more and more time: that the body could hold out a bit longer or that science could come up with something new, to stave off the inevitable and hurtful, at least for a while.

Of a lot of things that happen in this world, many are unfair. That a beautiful person like you, with so much integrity, intelligence and energy for life, should have a disease so rare, life-threatening, and with few options to cure, is pure shit. It was frustrating especially for you. You were a determined person, driving different self-projects despite whatever the world threw at you. No one who first saw you would have guessed you were sick, and those who knew about it never failed to be impressed by you. In the recent soldier’s test at the home guard just a month ago, you even jogged faster in green uniform than a whole bunch of healthy people there. You didn’t believe it was worth doing things half-heartedly and for you there was no excuse why healthy people shouldn’t give their all to what they do when they could. It frustrated you (to hell, I imagine) not to be able to do things you were passionate about to a hundred percent, such as not beginning to teach, or being able to do regular runs like we used to. But even then, you never let the disappointment get the better of you. Instead, you found other passions and self-projects and immersed yourself in them too.

You were determination and integrity personified, and thus I could imagine to feel what a blow the failed transplant last year really had been on you. If the transplant had worked, it wouldn’t just have meant a cure or a longer life together, but a real tangible chance to really fully live at your full capacity, which was an enormous one. When the depression from the shock and disappointment of the failed transplant finally waned, you pulled yourself up so well. Fucking shit. There isn’t a more determined person than you, who had a greater will to live. And that what makes me angry about you dying so young: because even when you felt crushed and death by your own hand seemed a tempting way out of your misery, you said you never could get yourself to do it because there was so much to live for. You even fought to stay awake through the last hours of your life, despite only the tiniest foothold of hope that existed there and the knowledge that our “goodbye”, and that kiss, would likely be our last. You guessed – you told me – that you were going to die that night. And yet, as a man who wanted to live, you did everything the nurses and the doctors told you to do, in the last hours as they were scrambling to sustain you.

In that tiny but existing hope for life were all your dreams of what our future would bring, where we two and our great love stood at the center. I know that part of your will to live was also to protect me, because it was always agonizing for you to imagine my inconsolable sadness. Oh, Marcus. If you could only see me now, your heart would break. Mine is also broken.

---

Day 5.

I still have a heavy heart waking up and I don't know what to do. The first thing I do in the morning is look at pictures of you (and we’ve been through a lot!). They are a joy to look at because I remember so much of you, but they also fill me with an unbelievable longing, and also sadness. I’ve also been reading and rereading our old correspondence from before and shortly after we became together. Reading them makes me remember exactly how it felt falling in love: how my chest swelled with so much excitement that it might burst; yet how sensitive fingertips touched you in all gentle carefulness, and how this tension was beautiful and strange. I also understand all the more how much we loved each other so much, even then. That we should find each other is really magical.

Here is what you wrote me on November 4, 2005. That week, I stayed in your apartment (it would be our first apartment!) before leaving for Holland, where I was to study for three months. We made sure we booked tickets to regularly see each other, and you were going to go down to Holland on the 15th, a whole week and a half from when you wrote this letter:

"... I’ve been finding suspiciously long black hairs all around my apartment since you left. No, just kidding, I don’t mind that at all, rather the opposite. They remind me of you and that your stay here was more than just a wonderful dream. Picking them up reminds me of you, and I'm a bit hesitant to throw them away. I so miss the feeling of your presence around me, and I don’t know how I will last until the 15th. The hairs trigged an unbelievable longing in me. The surge after you was almost too much to bear. That is why I had to write you now, since I can’t call you at the moment."

As usual, you feel as I feel. I feel that I'm going through the same thing right now, without you in the places we used to be. Your things remind me that our time together was more than just a good dream. It was the most beautiful and wonderful reality. Your things and pretty much everything I see remind me of how good it felt in your presence, and how hard it is to live in your absence. Frankly, I don’t know what to do with your things. I want them to stay where they are, to remind me of you. If only I was certain, as you were that day, that I would see you in a week and a half’s time from now. But it’s never going to happen. I can’t call you at the moment, and that is why I write you now, because it’s too, too much to bear.
I want you. I want you. I want you. But nothing can ever be able to give me what I want from now on.

I love you whatever happens. I love you always.
Yours,
Joy

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