We are running out of the paper towels and toilet paper that you ran to Target for before you left.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. The grief counselor told me that we grieve the relationship the way it was lived, and in our relationship, I mothered you a lot. I worried about you. I made sure you took your vitamins. I folded your clean socks and underwear. I packed Vitamin C drops and medicine for your tour in case you caught a cold. I told you to wear a heavier coat when the weather was changing, but you usually didn’t listen, “I’m fine,” you said.
So I’ve been worrying about you for eleven years.
After your funeral and burial, and the lunch we had- your Aunt from Chicago walked with me arm in arm towards the parking lot. She told me that I could still say goodnight to you each night, even if you didn’t answer back- that was OK. But she told me, “You don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
I’m having some trouble letting go of that role. I think that’s why the quest that I’ve focused most of my attention on the past month or so is to know whether or not you’re OK. I don’t give too much thought or attention to whether or not Audrey and I will be alright- or how we’ll live. I somehow know we’ll get by. We’re alive…we can struggle along. But it’s you that I still find myself worrying about because I don’t know where you’ve gone. I only know that you didn’t intend on going there so soon. So I worry. Are you surprised/shocked? Do you have any sorrow over what happened? I know you’re not supposed to, but I worry. Are you worried about us? Are you watching us sometimes and in dismay to learn that you are dead? All I need is some assurance that you are well. Then I know, I just know, I can go on and live well even without you.
On that first drive to Maryland we took before we were dating, I always remembered how my friend Cathy sent us off for the drive home and told you to take good care of me. But I remember you answered, “She’s the one taking care of me!”
After you were stabbed in the chest on the subway platform, I wanted you in my sight at all times. After staying overnight at the ER and one night in my own apartment, we both went to stay at my parent’s house for the holiday week. You slept in my childhood bed, but I placed couch cushions on the floor next to you each night. I just didn’t want to leave your side.
This year your mom forgot my birthday. You were away too. It was a quiet, uneventful day. But later she called and apologized. She told me, “You take care of my son- I have to take care of you.”
In every email from the past year, I ask you to be careful and to eat well while away. But that was all I could do. You promised me you would. The very last words I spoke to you on Skype the day before you died: “Take care of yourself.” You said you would.
I received your bag from Switzerland and in it was the pill box with the days of the week I’d packed with vitamins for you, but some of them had spilled out and were loose in your back pack- they looked like they’d gotten wet. I tried to count them to see if you’d been taking them up until then- silly thing to do.
So, all I want to know- is are you well? Are you alright? And if you can, or if God can- can you give me some assurance of that? Then I will go on…then I can stop worrying.