Grief feels a lot like clinical depression, I read. It does.
“There’s nothing wrong with you going on some medication to help if you get to that point where you can’t function. You’ll know when that is,” the grief counselor told me our first meeting.
Lisa took Audrey to her house even though there was no play group today. I couldn’t stop crying in the lobby while waiting for her.
I had visions the old Julia would’ve had of cleaning my entire apartment while she was gone, but mostly I wanted to get back in bed. I thought I’d try to do one thing- maybe clean out the fridge- which was sorely in need of cleaning…but instead I found myself eyeing that suitcase still on the balcony where I left it weeks ago. I am so tired of seeing the Airline tape wrapped all around it- so tired of the funeral home’s name in big letters on it. I opened the sliding door and brought it inside. I went through the things I’d left in there- your new custom made sneakers you were planning on wearing there- unworn. I tried one on. You had big feet. I know those would’ve looked really cool on you Dan. I went through little plastic baggies with contact lens solution, extra toothbrushes you snagged from hotels, and q-tips and cotton balls. There wasn’t that much in there. I thought about putting some of it in our toiletry bin and throwing out the rest, but in the end I put it all in one big baggie and tucked it in your back pack. I cut off the labels tied on to the handle addressed to the funeral director. I tore off the tape wrapped around your suitcase- but it left a lot of sticky stuff and its imprint behind so you can still see “Transatlantic” all over the silver-grey suitcase. I cried and cursed and cried as I went through it and as I went through your back pack again also before placing those things inside. “You should be here! You should be home now!” I can’t believe this actually happened. I can’t believe this happened. To you and to me and to Audrey.
Then I zipped it up, and decided to walk around the apartment pulling that suitcase. I remember seeing it in TJ Maxx and thinking what a great find it was for the brand and price- and filling it up with tons of goodies for your first trip last year- and a big photo of Audrey on top saying Happy Father’s Day- that was your present last June. I wanted to send you off well. I’m not sure you used half of what I bought- but it felt good to do when I was so sad about your leaving. I wish there was something like that I could do now. Going to Duane Reade and buying a whole bunch of travel sized stuff isn’t the answer. But what is?
After I walked around the apartment twice, I reenacted our last goodbye…pulling the suitcase up the door the way you did. I opened the door after checking through the peep hole that no neighbors were around. I looked out into the empty spot in front of our door and pictured you there. “I love you. See you in a few weeks,” I said quietly but out loud. Then I shut the door and turned around to see the suitcase still there.
Then I cleaned the refrigerator. Really well, though not as well as the old me would’ve. Still, I took everything out and wiped down the shelves and inside the drawers. I took out the recycling and the trash. I am exhausted- Audrey should be home soon.
A friend told me since it’s Tuesday it must be eight weeks. I don’t really keep track of those dates. There’s still no time yet for me. She also told me I’d gone through all of August without Dan. Have I really? I am still waiting to see you. I know our reunion will be so sweet.
I had a dream about you last night- but it wasn’t a “God” dream or anything. I’ve had this similar dream many times when we were dating and married. In it, you don’t want to be with me anymore. You seem cold and distant. I feel the pain and the hurt of rejection. But in this dream, I had the distinct thought, “Wow- I guess we’re really not going to be together? I thought we were truly meant for each other. I thought no matter what happened – we’d always wind up back together?”