Saturday, July 16, 2011

Left Arm

She knew in an instant that everything must stop. It must stop. And it did.

In that moment, the only things left for her were convulsing sobs. The tears had been stowed away until everything was taken care of and managed. Now they erupted in a reversed lobotomy. Smells, touches, looks—all called forth in a single moment. These memories and emotions were compacted into one lament. She knew only sorrow in this moment. It was true, it was deep, and it was far more real than she ever imagined it could be. No matter how many stories she read about it, no matter how many novels, movies, or photographs portrayed it, this kind of loss was absolutely unbearable. Yet she had borne it already without recognizing it.

The funeral was shrouded in the tearful and long good-byes from friends and family. Even at the graveside service, her mind had been steeled against the totality of the truth that never was six feet so deep than when it lay between the living and the dead. That cold, dead earth spoke into her ears deafened by survival that it would never surrender him back to her—never. But she had never really comprehended it until that moment when everything had to stop. And it did.

She hadn’t really known anguish before. Now she did. Every fiber of her body was wracked with this new kind of pain. Deathly and deadly separation. “And the two shall become one.” Now and truly it had become “And the one shall become half.” Half of life. Half of love. Half of a human being. Half able. Half empty. Half alone. No—this was wholly and completely alone.

As the surge of sorrow began to dissipate—as it always would eventually—she felt new and somehow odd. She took a few moments to try to assess the damage. Like a medic on the field of battle, she quickly and carefully assessed her body parts. Right arm. Check. Right leg. Check. Left leg. Check. Left arm . . . it was gone! In almost every way, it was gone.

He had been her left arm: doing the dishes, he the left and she the right; keeping the yard, he the left and she the right; stocking the pantry, he the left and she the right. Who would rinse the dishes now? Who would mow the grass while she weeded the flower beds? Who would read the morning devotions after she read the Scripture? Who would be on the left side of the bed in the still of the night?

As she began to breathe with more regularity and rhythm, she finally and fully understood. He would not be there. Her left arm had been ripped out of its socket. Frayed ends of tendons and muscle dangled over the edge of her shoulder. There was nothing there now. There were no doctors or nurses available, so she would have to take the swig of whiskey, bite down on the stick, stitch up the skin, then pray that it would not get infected.

She would have to do this on her own. There was nothing more for her to do. She would have to finish life without her left arm.


From SHE: Stories of a Woman


Copyright M.R.HYDE 2010