I imagine grief like an old-fashioned corset that one can’t wait to break free of.
Or like the REM sleep paralysis one experiences when she is sleeping and dreaming a terrible vision but can’t move her body or open her eyes to stop it- though she tries with all of the strength in her.
It is still common that I have a vision of something so mundane- like you clipping your finger nails over a magazine (your usual practice), or your cello swinging on your arm, or your clothes in the hamper- that I experience your death completely afresh. I gasp and words come out of my mouth aloud, “Oh my God.”
It is still common that I stop what I’m doing in the evening and look towards our door, concentrating my energy on the knob. I stand for a moment. It seems completely possibly that you could indeed open it. …
“OK, Audrey, time for your bath.” I turn away.
I count through the months of the year the other day to see how many months I am actually free of the “holidays” and “anniversaries” that everyone says are so painful. And I find they are- the days leading up, the days afterwards, and the day itself. I find only October and March are void of any huge dates besides the date of your death. That’s a lot of holidays and anniversaries. It’s an onslaught really. I’m right in the thick of the tail end right now- made it through our anniversary, Audrey’s birthday, your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, Valentine’s Day, my 35th birthday, Mother’s Day. There are three huge dates left: Memorial Day- the day we met- 1999, Father’s Day, and the year anniversary of your death. It approaches. So soon. While I am still processing the phone call and all that it means. In between all of these days, I am always speaking into the air, “I love you…” As I walk behind Audrey’s stroller to the park, after she’s asleep and I sit on the kitchen floor in the dim evening light with my head in my hands, or while I lay on my bed watching old episodes of “Arrested Development”- a show we enjoyed watching together and laughing sometimes- yes, even laughing. “I love you…” “Sah rahng hae.”
And then what? It starts over again. Another year- but a quieter one when most will assume I’m now “well,” because “time heals.”
A photo of you comes up on my computer earlier. “One day you’re going to look very young to me,” I tell you.
“Like a boy.”