So we went for a walk along the river again- because it was a beautiful day and I couldn’t stay inside all afternoon. Plus, pushing her in the stroller has the advantage of letting me cry fairly freely without her seeing me.
There were more people out than usual due to the weather and maybe the four day weekend. I saw quite a few other young mothers pushing strollers and they gave me that “knowing” look as if to say, “I’m a mother too- isn’t this hard and fun and amazing?” I’d exchanged that look many times before, but now I can’t return it. I think to myself, “I’m not like you; you think I am- but I’m not. My husband just died.”
The widow I spoke to a few days ago told me that for her, getting outside had helped a lot- she felt more at peace in nature. Nature, however, is mostly what took you from me, so it doesn’t have quite that same effect on me. We stop at a favorite spot of Audrey’s and watch the little waves come up to the shore after a boat goes by. I look out at the water and imagine how you died. I picture your body- the way it looked when some diver found it. I wonder how far out you were, how deep, and what you looked like. Were you arms up or at your side- were your eyes open or closed?
I think of a favorite book from high school and one of my favorite anti-heroines- Edna Pontelier- from Kate Chopin’s “The Great Awakening,” and the way she just walks straight out into the water to die and escape the oppression of her life. It was romantic and liberating. This is neither.
On the walk back, I sit down on a bench to rest. I tell Audrey that mommy just has to sit and think for a minute. “Do you know what mommy’s gonna think about?” I ask her.
“Appa,” she says without any hesitation. I am surprised. She knows more than I thought.
This morning when she was walking around with just her diaper she started to say, “Just like appa,” because sometimes you walked around in your boxers and she said you were naked. And then when she put on her sneakers, she commented, “member Appa’s neakers.” She was remembering that you wore sneakers too. “Yes, appa wore sneakers- that’s right.” I feel like maybe she actually is trying to remember you when she can.
As we head home, I see a few couples sitting on the rocks or holding hands. I thought about how sometimes you accused me of just wanting to be “married” but not necessarily married to you. I think about that as I watch the couples because sometimes when you accused me of that, I wasn’t sure if you weren’t right. “No,” I think. I know now- what I enjoyed so much was not the “being married”- but what I singularly enjoyed- was being married to you Dan.