I remember Ems telling me that he'd gone home the evening after he'd asked me out and couldn't stop crying in his room because he was so happy. I remember his tears during our first argument, bewildered at 'what had gone wrong' and so desperate for us not to break up (the very existence of this blog shows that the desperation was mutual). I remember us driving along and realising it would be 4 days before we were next able to see each other and simultaneously looking at one another with tears in our eyes (that will sound desperately silly to those of you who've mastered long distance love). I remember saying my vows in our wedding rehearsal and struggling to get the words out through my tears; I mistakenly thought that getting the tears 'over with' in the rehearsal would mean I was ready to say them in the actual ceremony tears free. I was wrong!
Love it seemed had released something in the two of us which was difficult to contain. Neither of us were the sort to spontaneously burst into tears regularly before. Something about the love we shared moved us, equally so the fear of losing it. I poignantly remember us both sobbing in my parents living room while watching 'The Notebook', unable to imagine what it would be like to lose the other with age, age we were never to reach, to dementia in front of our very eyes. I remember us sat on our sofa, talking about how it would be impossible to live without one another, tears rolling down our faces.
It seems rather peculiar to remember particular instances of emotion now. If falling in love with one another had opened the flood gates to some extent, losing sweet Ems has burst the reservoir wall and I have no control with each bend and bump in the road how much water will come my way. There have been tears too many and too often to remember particular instances like those when he was here.
Before Ems died I didn't realise that a broken heart actually physically hurt at times. I also didn't know that the sting of tears was more than a temporary burning sensation while the tears were still flowing, and was in fact a lingering ache that pounded even after the tears had long since soaked into my clothes or pillow.
Tonight I was at one of our monthly leadership meetings and found myself in tears after the meeting. I wasn't moved by the matters we were discussing. I simply couldn't control the emotion that burst up as I tried to speak up about something I felt passionate about and failed to make my voice heard (literally - I was like a mouse). I get annoyed at myself; at the underlying confidence which is so fragile now. I get frustrated at how different things are, how I can't do my job like I used to, how I can't stand before the crowd like I used to, how I can't speak up about things I feel passionately about in conversations because of the flood that can inevitably follow.
And so lately I've been finding myself staying silent, answering 'yeah I'm ok' to people who genuinely want to know how I am. I put on the mask and I smile politely, even go overboard with the day to day chit-chat. I'm not even trying to prove that I am ok. I even detest my falseness at times. I've just struggled to be any other way.
So do I stay silent when I want to talk about things that I'm passionate about? Do I not say how I am when someone really wants to know how I really am? What gain is there in giving the appearance of being stone-like when underneath the love and passions rage?
I sobbed all the way home tonight. I remember braving my first leadership meeting after Ems died and getting emotional about being welcomed, getting emotional at the end of the meeting as people said "I'd better get back to my wife / husband". I missed knowing that Ems was at home waiting for me, whether it be his open arms to celebrate with me, his shoulder to lean on if the meeting had been tough, or to catch up on the Ray Mears programme he'd been watching on iPlayer while I was out (he always conveyed the adventure so excitedly!).
I missed Ems tonight. I drove home asking him in my head why he wasn't here. If he was here I would have been more confident. If he was here I wouldn't have lost control of my emotions even if I hadn't been heard. If he was here he would have comforted me on my return, even if I had got emotional. If he was here...
And so, I can't do anything about the tears. I can act as though there's nothing going on underneath, but that won't mean that there isn't.
The tears come unexpectedly now.
As I sat on the plane back from New York last week (I'll write about that trip soon), I put the earphones of his iPod touch in, clicked play and looked through the beautiful photos of us that are stored on it. I have done so several times without emotion but as I sat on that night flight, the interior lights off, I started to sob. With 2 seats to myself and the lights off I could easily hide visibly but had to put all my efforts into avoiding making any noise as the sobbing got stronger. As my body convulsed with the sobs and the noise sought to burst out, I bottled up the noise so instead the emotion poured out in rivers. The Virgin Atlantic pillow was saturated as I thought about my Ems and the fact that going 'home' is never that without him. Even up so high in the sky I am still no closer to him. It wasn't 'home' anymore that I was headed towards. One beautiful day it will be.
I have memories that spring up on me in the most 'normal' of times, as though there to remind me that all is not 'normal'. Sat in church singing and suddenly reminded of the 600+ who gathered for Ems' funeral: 600! At first I am touched at the amount of love people had / have for Ems and then I'm reminded of why those people gathered. It's a 'funny' kind of reminder, to go from 'normality' to 'reality' within seconds of my thought patterns. The mask is shattered with them but I'd never be without those reminders. To be reminded that all is not 'normal' reminds me that one day all will be well; this is not 'home' forever.
Many ask if the photos placed around my pc screen (in above photo), on my car's dashboard, kept as numerous bookmarks, upset me; but these photos are reminders of blessings I still count as mine. And if there's a tear or two to pay for them, then they're a small price to pay.
One day there'll be no more tears.