Its been a tough day in the office. I ended up having to stay much later than anticipated to sort out an unexpected emergency. Tempers were fraying amongst those around me. Such is the nature of my job, much of that anger was directed towards me. None of this is new. I can deal with it. But throughout I found myself constantly wishing with all my heart that I could tell Louise about it. That I could go home and recount the story to a sympathetic and loving audience who would be wholly on my side. Go home to a house full of light, warmth, love and human contact.
Instead, I found myself outside a darkened, eerily quiet and empty house. As usual when I am at the front door in the dark I think back to the night Louise died. I remember standing outside, trying desperately to gain entry, knowing from the desperate note pinned to the door what I would find. When I haven't left the hall light on in readiness for my return I now always open the front door ajar, just enough to reach in, turn the light on and wait a couple of seconds, giving time for the sight of Louise as I found her to disappear, to be banished by the light.
Inside there is nobody to complain to about my day in the office, nobody to reassure me that I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong, nobody to give me a consolatory cuddle, nobody to tell me that dinner is ready, nobody to suggest that we curl up on the sofa and watch that DVD together. Nobody to share anything with. Just silence and emptiness.
Our partner is a constant presence in our life, even when they are not physically in our company. Remove that presence, that solid and reassuring ever present shape, and you have the true meaning of the void that is absence. And it tends to be the little things where the absence of our soulmate is most noticeable. Its not so much the loss of somebody to share those major life experiences with; family celebrations, changing jobs, moving house, holidays. Nor is it being deprived of the physical relationship with our sexual partner. All of this is highly significant in its own right but the very greatest impact is the loss of those daily moments of quiet intimacy, understanding, anticipation, and support which perhaps before were so routine that we took them for granted, or so intangible that we scarcely recognised their existence, let alone their value.
Loss of our partner is the knowledge that nobody needs to know when we are getting home, that nobody would even notice if we didn't come home at all. Its walking down the street without holding hands. Its having nobody to tell about that compliment we received at work or the joke we heard, or to patiently listen to our excitement at our club's exotic new Albanian striker. Its the lack of somebody to quietly warn our hosts in advance that we really hate mushrooms. Its having nobody to offer to make a cup of tea for. Its the absence of a reassuring presence next to us when we wake up after a nightmare. Its coming home on an evening and not speaking to another human until the following day. Its not being able to touch somebody lightly on the shoulder while passing each other in the kitchen. Its having nobody to tell us that they are proud of us. Its having nobody to be proud of.
Loss of our partner is not about being one when previously we were two. Its being half when we were previously one.