A Handful of Dust

Posted on Friday 27 January 2012

I will show you fear in a handful of dust

—The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot

I don’t think that most people actually fear death, I think we fear that no one will notice our absence—that we will disappear without a trace. Ellie need never fear this, because she will always be missed by me. Though she still lives, in many ways, the woman I love appears to have passed on as surely as if her body had died. I would not call being a slave to the drugs and alcohol that she is addicted to living in any real sense.

In many ways, death is so much harder for those left behind, than it is for the person who dies. Gee knew this. Just before she died, Gee said she was sorry that the complications from her cancer were killing her. She apologized because she thought she would not be able to keep the promise she had made me the day we got engaged. I think this is why the Japanese have a saying:

Death is lighter than a feather, duty is heavier than a mountain.

Because, for those left behind, carrying on without their loved one is far more difficult than dying—yet it is what the ones they have lost would want for the people they loved.

I know this is true for Gee, as it is for my twin David and for Shelley, the first woman I ever lost. However, it is hard to say what Ellie wants. Unlike Gee, David, and Shelley—Ellie is not dead. She may still survive, buried somewhere under the layers of lies and addiction that have seemingly consumed her.

Part of me thinks that Ellie would want me to wait for her and be here to help her as I have promised. But I don’t even know if the Ellie I love even still exists. It certainly seems that she has fallen a victim of her illness—since I have seen no real sign of the smart, strong, confident, beautiful and stubborn Irish woman I love.

I still see glimpses of what might be the woman I love—but they are so fleeting it is hard to say whether they are really her or not. Little things—like collaging her jewelry box lid, buying fuzzy slippers with jingle bells on them, stopping for geese to cross the road and such—are tiny glimpses of the woman I love, but I do not know if they are real or just echoes of who the drug-addicted alcoholic used to be. These glimpses have gotten rarer and farther between as time has passed and I haven’t seen any in the most recent months. Like echoes, they are fading as they get farther from the woman I love.

Yet, I know she loves me and would not want me to stay if she is gone. She would want me to move on and get on with my life. If she has been lost to her addictions, as appears to be the case, she would not want me to waste time on the drug-addicted alcoholic wretch that is all that is left of her. She would not want me to see what her addictions have reduced her to—to see how far she has fallen from the strong, incredibly beautiful and confident woman I love.

I have been grieving for my beloved Ellie for a week now. It is still hard for me to accept that such a strong, stubborn and intelligent woman could have fallen to alcoholism and drug addiction as seems to be the case. It is hard for me to believe that my beautiful feisty-tempered, strong-willed Irish lass has let her addictions destroy who she is, destroy her health, and ruin her chance at the hopes and dreams she had told me about.

Part of me still hopes that she is as strong, smart and stubborn as I believe her to be—that somewhere beneath her lies and her addictions, she is still there—fighting to overcome her illness; fighting to once again become the amazing woman who loves me; fighting to save the bright future she had last spring.

I am moving on as I must, because I can not stay and watch Ellie’s addictions destroy everything I love about her. I know it is what Ellie would have wanted for me—because she loves me. However, Ellie knows where to find me if she wants me back in her life—if she wants my help in beating her addictions. If she proves herself by making amends for the lies she has told, and seeks me out and shows me that she wants me in her life—and has made a place for me beside her, I will return to help her as I have promised.

Even though it appears that Ellie has succumbed to her addictions, I am still as devoted and committed to her as I have ever been. If she ever shows me that she still exists and asks me for my help—I will help her fight her addictions and walk beside her on her long road to recovery. This is what I have promised the woman I love. This is my duty and responsibility to the woman that said “Sarangheyo” to me last June.

I was looking forward to spending this Valentine’s Day with Ellie. It would have been our first together as a couple, rather than as friends. But, I doubt that will ever happen now. I am still certain that Ellie is the woman Gee asked me to look for 11 years ago. I think it was not coincidence that Ellie’s first thoughts when I asked her to marry me were of my late wife Gee. The fact that I love Ellie more than I love Gee also says much about who Ellie is to me. I do not know why things have been so difficult for us, but I hope and pray for Ellie to become healthy again and to remember who we really are to each other. I trust that God has a reason for the trials he has put Ellie and me through.

May God be with Ellie and watch over her for me. I hope that God grants her the strength, courage and will to fight her addictions. I pray that God brings my beloved back to where she belongs—by my side.

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