Phantom Limb. The name given to that piece of the body that’s been amputated from the rest of its parts — yet its presence is still felt. At times, it feels as if it is still attached and in sync with other body parts. It feels like it’s still moving, still part of you – except it isn’t.
I can’t help but think that’s a pretty apt description of the loss of a spouse, don’t you? Ripping off a vital part of your being without warning is beyond shock; beyond comprehension. Living within that unreality is painful to the max. Like a treasured limb, its absence is unthinkable.
HIS absence is unthinkable. His skin, his body, his voice was as familiar as my own. I knew every hill and valley of his shoulders, chest, back. We moved in sync and shadowed each other in so many ways. I could move my arm and his came to meet it. When my back faced his chest, instinctively his hands massaged my aching shoulders in unspoken need. I knew every nuance of his expressions, some of pure enjoyment, some an expression of inner boredom, some a plastic arrangement of smile to cover hurt or emotional pain. Crossing a city street, his hand came instinctively to meet mine. Sometimes we take an arm, leg, a hand for granted. Heck, we take so much of life and living for granted so often. We depend on things being there when we need them. Oh, sure we appreciate them, we even take care the very best we can. But do we treasure, look closely in awe at their complexity? Limbs, hands – we don’t know life without them to hold us up, touch lovingly, protect, grasp in security. And like those jigsaw body attachments, our precious ‘other’ is joined to us, completes us. Dots are successfully connected. Beautiful, complicated lego relationships are born along with neatly packaged spirits.
All the parts work – until they don’t. Until the moment, the shocking, Titanic moment when death performs the cruel surgery love would not. Half of us is forever severed. Yet somehow, beyond understanding, we can still feel their touch. If we close our eyes, sometimes we can feel their hands, their skin, tight embrace.
My phantom limb was born – the moment my husband died.