I dreamed about you last night.

It seems so long since you’ve been gone, and I feel like such a different person without you here.

There is a strange sense of numbness when a loved one dies, and it’s a blessing really, I’ve always thought. It’s that numbness that leaves us able to plan a funeral, and sit through a funeral, and take care of necessary paperwork and other awful things that signal the end of a life. It’s that numbness that enables us to keep getting out of bed, day after day, taking kids to school and making dinner and washing dishes and setting up appointments.

It’s that numbness that keeps our bodies going while our souls are weeping.

But I’ve noticed that since you’ve been gone, that initial numbness still hasn’t gone away, and I find myself lacking the ability to care about so many things that used to seem important.

I think to myself, “I should care about this,” but inside, I feel absolutely nothing.

Sometimes I attempt to trick myself into it with a “fake until you make it” mentality, but so far that doesn’t seem to be working so well.

And it seems as time goes on that walking away from the things I no longer care about becomes easier and easier.

It isn’t that I don’t care about anything, not at all; it’s simply that my focus seems to have narrowed considerably, and whatever doesn’t fall within that narrow scope feels now like a waste of time and effort. And if it’s such a waste, why bother in the first place?

What does matter? Family, home, writing. A few friends that are truly worth the effort of friendship.

I deliberately seek out what brings joy, or ways to bring laughter to others.

Beyond that, the rest of the world could fall away and I would not care at all.

So then, is this evidence that depression is again rearing its miserable and familiar head? I don’t think so, not really. I don’t feel depressed; I’m not sad or angry, not constantly fatigued or in tears.

Or is it simply that the raw horror of losing you has stripped away pretense, and left me with a clearer picture of what is worthy of my love and attention?

I don’t know.

I don’t know, and I feel like something precious and valuable has been broken inside me for a year and a half, and I don’t know if there is a way to fix it or even if I should try.

I used to care about and worry about so many things I often felt each new day was a burden of overwhelming pressure, and I would undeniably fail in the mad attempt o get it all taken care of, so that I felt constantly caught up in a whirlwind of frantic need.

But now even time feels slower, and if I can’t get it done, will it really matter? I take on less, expect less of myself, and worry less about achieving the approval of anyone else.

And I don’t know that it’s really wrong, to feel this way. What concerns me is the worry that this numbness may one day overtake everything, and if it does, what then?

Embracing detachment is easier, for certain. I hold on to what matters most with fierce determination, and I will not let it drift away.

At the same time, I feel as if some part of me that used to be important has drifted away while I wasn’t looking, and I don’t know how to get it back.

I dreamed about you last night. You were still sick, but whole enough to hug without worrying your thin skin might tear, and I couldn’t feel your ribs through your shirt.

But I heard your laughter, clear as a tinkling bell, and I could smell your minty gum and your perfume and underneath it the smoke of your cigarettes.

It’s been a year and a half since you’ve been gone, and it still feels like I’m waiting for the punch line to a very bad joke.