My memories of John don't seem real anymore. That period in my life, from when John got his diagnosis to when he died, feels like a movie that I watched or a book that I read, something that touched me deeply but was not my life. I can talk about all those experiences with a detachment and perspective that feel eerie and unnatural. When I describe how difficult it was to deal with John's illness, or how charged the decision to have the twins was, it's as though I'm parroting words that someone else put in my mouth, giving voice to the experience of another.
My feelings and memories of John and his illness and death remind me of my early childhood memories. I have lots of memories from the ages of three or four that aren't real. Or maybe they are. Who knows? It's impossible for me to tease apart what is my own memory and what is a story that has been told to me so many times that I've made it a memory and what is a picture that I've seen that I've turned into a memory.
I feel like I've lost the real John. What I have left is the John that my mind can process and that my emotions can handle. I don't remember him as perfect and I have not put him on a pedestal. I just wish I could have him back for a day, feel his arms around me again, hear the sound of his voice, show him the little people Maddie and Riley have become. I can imagine how his arms would feel and his voice would sound. I know he'd be so proud of Maddie and Riley. But I can no longer remember how it felt to have him hold me, how his voice could make me weak, what he would say to express his pride.
Our fifth anniversary is August 14, 2009. I'm daunted by confronting that day here in Portland, in the place we intended to live, with a job I could have only dreamed of having, leading a life I could have never imagined in the city where we got married. I miss John so much, but so abstractly. In a way, it's a blessing. But today it feels mostly like a curse.