There’s a pressure in my chest, pushing on my lungs and throat. At the same time, it feels like the space is collapsing in on itself… surging… expanding and contracting so quickly I don't notice one or the other but both simultaneously.
It hurts but it’s not traditional pain. It’s not sharp or dull, shooting or radiating. I couldn't rate it on any pain scale and it doesn’t have a clinical term. I’d call it a void but only if I had to. It feels more like an absence of something… maybe joy or hope… maybe meaning or something more necessary and disturbing. Something has been removed from my soul and there is a swirling ball of emptiness in its place.
Sometimes the void is so small I can tuck it back and bury it deep within the recesses of my soul, leaving it largely unnoticed. Then there are days like today when the steady tick of his pocket watch on my nightstand dissolved the fog of time, revealing the bitter memories of his death. Like a prospector’s sieve, slipping side to side, shaking loose the murky waters and leaving bold and bright all the glory of the most devastating moment in my life. On those days, the void explodes, rushing toward the surface, swallowing every positive emotion it encounters. It sits between my lungs; a black hole, relentlessly reminding me of everything I've lost and everything I miss not having him in my life.
Something’s gone and I ache. But I brush my teeth, shower, get dressed and go to work as if every piece of me were still locked firmly in place. I drive, numb and silent. I pull my muscles to make a smile but I have no reason to do so. I wonder if they can see it in my eyes. They must not, or they’d surely say something. I work and all I want to do is scream and crumble and sob. My body reacts to the world but my mind hides under the desk, curled into a ball, scared to death that this feeling, this emptiness, will stay this big for good.