I live with a ghost beneath my skin.
Every morning for what feels like an eternity, I have woken to the sensation of you curling up behind me. Something akin to an amputee many years post-surgery.
In the seconds between sleep and awake, I feel your breath slide across my collarbone as your lips brush my C-7 vertebra, the ache of your teeth nipping at my earlobe and your hands gently palming my rib cage in search of comfort.
Some days I could swear I heard giggling off in the background.
As I step into full consciousness, I have started to make extra time for stretching into starfish, to relieve the pressure that still grows beneath my sternum each morning, gently clearing out the sensation of you and creating space in my body for the new day.
For a long while the action felt bittersweet, but lately, it’s been impossible not to smile for the three or four seconds in which I notice the ghost lingering in my body.
I’ve learnt that some days that clearing out process takes its own sweet time.
You have been gone for nine months and 20 days. 293 sunrises to be exact.
I began to process time in terms of sunrises once you were gone; consciously turning each new day into an adventure. I remember vaguely that while I favor the crisp blues and golds of sunrise, you loved the bloody reds and oranges of sunset. Such a nebulous memory.
I’m no longer angry at the world over the unfairness of losing you, but my recollections of life with you grow increasingly indistinct. Memories are faded or replaced in daily relevance by new experiences. It’s disconcerting that my mind is forgetting even as my body remembers. I wonder if at some point I will be left with the sensation of you and no face to which to tie that feeling.
Would I recognize you in another body?
It matters not.
In the morning is when I think of you; when my body says hello to a ghost.
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Editor: Bronwyn Petry
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons