The widow club on Facebook posed the question today, “What are you doing on Labor Day?” One woman said she and her son went to the grave because her husband had been such a hard worker. That’s nice. I’m feeling the urge to go soon- it will be another big step. Another place- another new reality. I guess I’ll have to get a headstone sometime soon too. That made me think about what a hard worker you were Dan. You really were. I’d say you were lazy if you were playing Playstation after work, but for years you worked many, many extra hours at an office job you disliked while still pursuing your dream on the side so passionately. I never knew how you did it to be honest. Even though I always thought of myself as the workaholic, turns out you are the model of hard work for me. And your hard work actually paid off too- you achieved what you were aiming for. You would’ve achieved so much more given a few more years even.
So, what did we do today? We had a visit from some friends from our old church in Brooklyn. They were on their way back up to Albany where they currently live. Having not known this particular family that well before this- the small talk was hard. I’ve always hated it, but now it absolutely sucks the life out of me to have to talk about the neighborhood we live in, how long we’ve lived here, etc. I feel that visitors often think that is the kind of thing I want to talk about – things that will distract me. Actually, the only thing on my mind is this horror I’m enduring so that is what I prefer to talk about. The other hard thing was just seeing their two little girls interact with their daddy who they also call Appa. At one point during lunch, the older one asked her parents, “Why is it only the mommy?” “Because Dan died remember? We went to his funeral.”
The words stung. I kept feeding Audrey.
After they left, Audrey napped and so did I. I have no problem sleeping these days- I can barely stay awake by Audrey’s nap. My sleep dynamic has changed too- I always sleep now with the covers completely over my head- I think I’m trying to hide from it.
What pervaded my day and my thoughts was this: “You should be here.” I kept imagining you there at lunch, or just around the apartment while Audrey and I were playing. I could imagine you smiling and laughing or even crying with joy at some of the cute things Audrey was saying and doing. You actually did that in the past. One time when she was much smaller- maybe just over one year old, I moved my face up to hers and said “boop” and then she mimicked me moving her nose slowly up to mine and saying it, “mmmboop” and you had to leave the room because you got so choked up. When you came back in you told me it was the cutest thing you’d ever seen.
I keep thinking lately that it’s September. I had no idea really- I’ve been completely stranded in July.
Audrey’s been asking a lot more for you lately. She points to the map in the kitchen and asks if you’re on it. I tell her that no, you’re not there anymore. Today I told her you had traveled to that spot- but then you had an accident and got hurt. “His body stopped working,” I told her. It’s one of the lines in all of the children’s grief books I read. “Bo dee top wor king,” she repeated.
This morning before our visitors arrived, Audrey played for a long time by herself. I found myself sitting on the floor in front of your table of pictures, taking one down and just talking to you for a while. Then I found myself opening up the little file cabinet with your papers and music notebooks. I didn’t find much I didn’t know about since I was the one who’d organized the cabinet for you and placed everything in there…except for one thing. I hoped it’d be interesting by the way it was folded.
And it was.
It was the short note I’d written you right before I walked down the aisle. I sat in the little room in the church, tore a piece of paper out of a journal I had, and wrote it quickly, nervously, excitedly. I folded it and wrote your name in capital letters- and asked someone to deliver it to you.
i have imagined this moment walking down the aisle and seeing you smiling there for years…
as i walk i’ll be thinking about how blessed i am and how much i love you.
i love you.
Now I have a new moment to imagine- in hope- of seeing you waiting for me at the end of my journey…I don’t think I’ll be able to walk as slowly or calmly or gracefully if I see you there before me as I did six years ago. My note is not as brief- it is all of these words you see here…which will, I have a feeling- go on and on for my whole life…the word keeping.