A long time in the Twilight Zone

Consider, if you will, the plight of Timothy T. Terwilliger…



It has been one year and seven months since the death of his wife but in his mind it is as though she just vanished. Poof! One minute she was here and the next minute she was gone.

Mr Terwilliger still looks at the empty armchair in the living room in disbelief. In bed he looks at the empty pillow in disbelief. He reaches over and touches it. She is definitely not there. Was she ever there? Was it a dream? He cannot recall the details of her not being there.

Images come and go. Holding her hand in the ICU, a machine humming or beeping, he cannot remember which but it was either humming or beeping or a combination of the two.

He does not remember phoning her sister and her brother, sometimes he remembers phoning them but he does not remember what was said but they tell him he phoned them, phoned them several times.

He thinks he remembers a priest coming into the room but in the next second he does not remember a priest in the room. He thinks he remembers a nurse saying it was time to turn off the machine but in the next second he does not remember anyone saying that.

Mr Terwilliger does remember someone from hospice driving him home and he remembers hoping the man would come into the house with him but the hospice guy just dropped him off and drove away and that surprised him and he went into the house by himself and walked from room to room knowing his wife was not in any of the rooms because he remembered leaving her in the hospital room and then in the next moment he did not remember leaving her in the hospital room.

He remembers sitting in an armchair in the living room for what seemed like days, sitting there alone and the phone never rang and no one came to the door and the days must have been separated by nights but he cannot remember that either because he cannot remember ever going into the bedroom and getting into bed and sleeping.

It was like nothing had happened because he could not remember anything. He was in a vacuum, like the first moments of regaining consciousness after you black out. He thinks he thought he was losing his mind but he was not sure of that either.

All he knows is that one year and seven months later nothing has changed. The silence, the dead phone, the dead doorbell, the vacuum. The nights, the days, all one. One year and seven months is a long time to be in the first moments of regaining consciousness after you black out.

Sometimes he thinks he is dead. But if he is dead, who drank the contents of all those empty liquor bottles?

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‘Don’t worry about your wife, man.’

This ex-hippie guy I knew back in my Topanga Beach days* thirty years ago emails me out of the blue and writes:

Hey man, I’m sorry about the passing of your wife. I read about it on your blog, that’s how I got your email address. You write about her being in oblivion and never seeing her again. Well, we shared many a joint together, man, you and I, and I couldn’t let that go unaddressed. I’m here to tell you, don’t worry about your wife, man, your wife’s fine. She’s in a better place than you and me. Keep on tokin’ and you will be together again — that’s all I can say. — Bongo Baldecki.

So I write  back and say: YoBongo, I couldn’t believe hearing from you after all these years. Thanks for what you said about my wife, but let me cut right to the core from the get-go and tell ya that I’m not alive without her. Oh, I’m breathing and eating minimally and drinking copiously and sleeping fitfully and feeding the cat and driving down to the liquor store but I’m not alive without her. Whether she went to some sort of afterlife, an unknown sphere or dimension or became an as-yet undiscovered wave in the electromagnetic spectrum, or whatever — or none of the above — all I want to do is try and find her. If it doesn’t pan out, so be it. But I’m going to give it a shot — perfect word for the mission, don’t you think?

I didn’t hear back from him, but I think I know what he would say: It’s your call, dude. If you go ahead, say hello to Jerry Garcia for me, man.

*Topanga Beach days

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