The counselor also said that I needed a reprieve, and should set a goal to get out maybe twice a week. I think I have started doing this. I take Audrey for walks, to the playground, “We went on a raspberry picking outing last Sunday,” I told her.
Today was Audrey’s last class at the Little Gym and I decided to go with her. My parents had been taking her since this all began. I had taken her just to one class- the first class- the Friday before you died Dan. I never got to tell you about it. But as we were leaving- and I was holding Audrey and her snack and her cup of water, trying to get us into the car- you called. I picked up the phone but after a moment, told you I really couldn’t talk because we’d just gotten out of the class and I had to get Audrey in the car. If I am honest with myself, I know a part of that was the resentment – that you should get to call me from your world travels and expect me to be so happy to hear from you and just have plenty of time to sit down and chat. Well, I had a life too- I had to show you. I was a good mom who had signed up our child for a class, and now I was busy doing other mom stuff- putting her in the car seat. I was “busy,” yes! Ha.
There is the regret.
But the counselor pointed out something else very life-giving to me yesterday. The past year we did not have a traditional marriage- essentially we did not live together very much. And when we did – it required a transition that was not always smooth. So, there would be anger and resentment on my part- especially when you came back. And I would communicate that anger and articulate it as best as I could. I would tell you I felt it, but that I didn’t want to and I would work on it. But the counselor pointed out, “You were doing the right thing- working through the anger, but you never got to the next part- the mending- because then he’d be leaving again.” Yes, this is what happened, and this was not supposed to be the end of our story. In our last conversation on the phone, you told me that you were leaving the tour and there was a chance of a Broadway gig in NYC. I was so relieved and excited- had you not been taken- this would not have been our ending. We would’ve moved forward- there would have been mending- of this I am sure. At least there was the possibility.
And- she asked me when I told her how abandoned I had felt this past year every time you left, if there was any way you could’ve progressed in your career besides the tour. I had to admit- I did not believe so- even now, I had to stand up for your choice because I was always behind it. It was I who had sent you the email at your office job, “You could quit?” It was the right thing to do- a great opportunity- and it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. It was supposed to be just one year. You would’ve been home now. You were going to make contacts and get yourself out there- and you were Dan, you were. I’m so proud of you for that. And then…you would’ve been home. It’s not your fault that you’re not. And I still support our decision for you to do this thing.
Anyway, I got to see Audrey do her thing this morning though at first it was a little awkward because she headed right for my mom’s lap instead of mine. “You’ve got to get back in there with Audrey- at least a little bit more,” the counselor told me- “You don’t want to add guilt over that to everything you’re already feeling.” True- I am starting to see that. “And you need a reprieve,” she said. “Is there someplace you can go for a little bit with Audrey- or a friend, to be distracted from your grief just a little bit?” “I told her how every place would have an association- and this is why “places” of any kind have been hard. She told me there would be times when it was uncomfortable, but I would have to go forward. Yes, those times will come. I will. And yes, I need a reprieve.
Watching Audrey tumble on the mats and hang on the bar, I felt tired, but “alright.” At the end, each child received a certificate because it was the last class. That was the first time today I felt tearful. Because I realized, even though it’s just a toddler gym class, that this is the first of many achievements and certificates and recitals, caps and gowns, that you will miss. You will miss it all. You really will. Audrey loved her certificate and recognizing her name there. I am so proud of our little girl Dan. You would be too- you would’ve come to the class if you were home- or we would’ve showed you the certificate later at home.
And then only one more time, I felt the wave of being in the same place- in a different time- that strange sensation of walking in your own ghost’s steps…as I put Audrey in the car- I imagined the phone ringing- our brief conversation. I wish we could’ve spoken longer- I could’ve spoken longer. But I don’t dwell on it- there is nothing I can do. The place appears the same, but it is not. Time is place. I am in a different time and a different reality. I am a different person. And so went the morning. And there was reprieve. The acute pain from the past week has temporarily lifted I think because I could not bear it one second more. I am protected again- it is blocked for a bit- that this is about you. I will not push this time so hard to process and know this is about you again. I welcome the break because now I have felt what the true knowing feels like.
I resume my function and my writing and reading, and the little things on today’s to-do list of grief.