As part of selling the old house, I spend my days clearing out the non-art stuff from his studio, unpacking boxes from OUR move here to the new house. This work unpacks my own experiences and perceptions at the same time. Memories I've taken for granted give way, shifting closer, probably, to the way things were. Bit by bit, my lens clears. As those memories change, so does my view of today, not of objects, but of actions: if I didn't DO this because of that, then I must take responsibility for THAT. My new life doesn't stop moving just because my old life is leaving -- or rather, my old life keeps evolving while I'm building my new life. (As if they are even two separate things).
Last night, in a box of his notes in my new, box-filled office, this scrap of his handwriting, clearly original (he was fastidious about attribution) popped out at me as a challenge to my perceptions about what he was thinking in his last few months:
Fear accentuates the sense of self -- thus brings into play another "existential" fear, namely non-existence.
Are the two connected?
Can there be a veiled "existential fear pre-existing -- as a condition -- of existence which aggravates all fears and specifically heightens a fearing Self
Must one lost both fear and self -- simultaneously(Yes, he was too intellectual. We fit together well as navel-gazers.)
In one sense, I can barely figure out what he meant. The words make sense, but I'm straining to remember my orthodox Sartre from years ago, and I'd do anything to add a few punctuation marks.
In another sense, I am reminded that as much as he denied that death was on the way, he WAS afraid. This wipes away some of my anger at him, and also makes me feel compassion -- my least comfortable emotional companion, the one that hides from my other selves -- for where he was, what he was feeling during those dark last months, and helps me understand why he wished to hide the worst of his fear from me. It reminds me that my memory of that time is distorted -- as was my perception of what was going on at all levels for that long important period of downsliding that we went through together and (mostly) apart.
Five years after my loss, I continue to process, and change, and I am still putting things away in boxes for later, later when I have more room, around me and inside my head, for new ideas from old things.