I released a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. A rush of headiness. Oxygen filled my lungs. I felt like I was drowning but then I met once again with the joy of breathing the air. I took a deep breath. Once. Twice. One two three, inhale. One two three, exhale. I breathed the air deeply, and then released it until there was nothing left. And the rush of headiness came back tenfold.
I wasn’t sure how or why, but I knew that she was still around. From the cluttered mess in the corner of the room, easily forgotten and ignored by people passing by, from the way I heard the soft tap tap tap of her footsteps, I knew for sure that she was still here. I had resigned myself from expecting her to return completely to me. It was not possible. There was nothing holding her back here. Nothing I could offer. Nothing she wanted to keep. Not even me. No. Nothing. And yet, she lingered.
A clattering noise in the middle of the night from the direction of the kitchen told me that she was here again. I laid still on my bed. So very still. My body tense. Not even a muscle moved out of place. Even my heartbeat slowed. My breathing was just the faintest noise in the dead of the night. All these I did just to enable me to hear those noises she made. And when it subsided, I stared at the ceiling of my room blankly. Then, as if there was a dam inside me that was cracked and broken at that time, I cried. Silent tears ran down my cheek. Painting my face with streaks of salty water and snot. I curled. Grabbed my pillow and hugged the life out of it. I sobbed. Cried. Yelled a silent scream that no one would hear.
Sometimes the noise didn’t come. There would be no soft clanging sound of things being moved from the kitchen. But there would be a soft murmur just in front of my bedroom. Or a soft tap tap tap sound from beside my bed. Sometimes, there would just be a gust of cold wind caressing my left cheek as I struggled to close my eyes shut and not alerted her of my awareness of her presence. I was afraid that she would stop of that happened. And no. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, live with myself if I let that happened. Or sometimes, I would just feel like someone was standing right beside me and watching over me. And I knew it was her. Then, when the feeling of her presence was gone, the agony came and took her place once again.
It was tiring. To do so each and every night. That feeling of anticipation of hearing and experience her presence even for a minute. And then the feeling of gut wrenching sorrow that filled my heart. It was tiring. I was tired of this. It felt like my heart was ripped from my chest each night, crushed, beaten, and then left open to bleed. Sorrow was always my constant companion. My tears seemed to be never-ending. But even so, as I looked at my bleary and red-rimmed eyes every morning, I couldn’t help but smile at myself. Because every trace of sadness and tiredness on my face was proof that even though she may be gone from this world, her spirit lingered.
And when I couldn’t hear or feel her presence anymore, I knew. I knew it was time. I could finally be at peace. And perhaps, if luck was on my side, I could meet her once again. And together, we will linger.