The Brokenness of Morning

Dearest Rachel –

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird

Eleanor Farjeon, “Morning Has Broken,” 1931

You and I are both familiar with the concept of the mondegreen, that weird phenomenon where you hear music lyrics – or more to the point, mishear them. Perhaps the most famous example is a line from Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Purple Haze:’ “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” rather than “kiss the sky,” which was how it was written. Even Hendrix himself twigged on to the fact that it was misheard, and would occasionally grab a fellow bandmate and snog him on stage. All part of the show, you know.

There are times when I would hear this hymn quoted above, and hear the word ‘is’ instead of the word ‘has.’ Today, that mishearing seems singularly appropriate.

This morning started off much earlier than usual, with Chompers whining at about 5:30. Lately he’s been allowing me to sleep till almost seven, so I can take him out and then feed him almost immediately upon coming back in. Not so much today – and I just know I’ll be falling asleep in front of my computer once I get to the office, too.

Worse yet, when I took him out, he just stood there for several minutes before simply sinking to his knees (or elbows? in any event , his chin was basically on the ground), and just whining as if he had no clue as to why I was taking him out at such a ridiculous hour in the morning. He didn’t even bother to pee, which after four or five hours of sleep since doing so last seems… unusual.

But if nothing was gonna happen, nothings going to happen. I took him back in. At which point he promptly began whining again.

Well, what else was I going to do? I took him back outside. This time, while he did stand around again for an inordinately long period of time, he actually did get some results. So at least that wasn’t wasted.

But still, here we were at 6:20, and he’s still not happy, because he expects to be fed. Not at this hour, he’s not going to be. But since I’m up, I decide to fix myself some breakfast – it’s either than, or go back to bed, and we both know that’s not happening. Needless to say, this does not sit well with him.

Again, normally I would have no problem with feeding him as soon as he’s back inside. But that’s usually because he’s been good enough to let me sleep until almost the time when I would ordinarily choose to feed him. Since he’s got me up this early, he’s got to learn that there are certain points at which he is not the alpha of the family. And I may well be far too laid back to truly be the head of this household, but I do have my limits.

So I’m eating my bagel in the kitchen just on the other side of the doorway from where he’s sitting, waiting for me. I’m reading my newsfeed, trying to mentally drown out the silence.

And it’s at this point that the morning, like so many mornings over these past five months, seems broken. It’s not really that much different from when you were here (other than the fact that I’m eating in the kitchen rather than in the recliner in the bedroom), But back then, even asleep, you were there. Yours was a reassuring presence that… I guess I took for granted.

But with you gone, what’s left?

Most mornings, all I really needed was to know was that you were there. I wouldn’t wake you or anything, as least not until it was time for me to leave for work. Not every morning was – or is – a Saturday morning, after all. All I needed was – and I hesitate to put it this way, as it makes it seem like I would settle for literally anyone who was willing to do so – a human presence to share space with; someone who would be there (eventually) when I went to sleep, and who would be there when I woke up.

You were that presence I needed. I don’t remember ever being conscious of this need for you to be there when you were, but in retrospect, it was always there. Even when we were silent together, those silences were companionable. Not so anymore. Now, the silence is just… oppressive, hanging heavy in the air like the heat of a steam bath after you’ve been in it too long, and you feel like you’re going to pass out.

Now, I try to do something, anything, to take my mind off of the silence. The first couple of months were particularly bad, insofar as the ‘distraction’ was to go through the piles of papers and other stuff on your side of the bedroom. To be honest, that generally only made things worse, as I would find scraps you’d written, photographs, and other things to remind me of you… and the fact that you were no longer around. Over time, Jan and I have gone through most of this, and there are fewer and fewer things left behind that I have yet to see or pore over. But that leaves me with nothing to fill this thick silence with, while I wait for Chompers to settle down (now that yes, I have fed him – and none too soon, in his opinion) before heading out for the office.

For now, the morning is broken. And at the moment, I have no idea how to fix it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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