I started to take photographs of our apartment the way it was when we lived here together before I make any other changes. I realize since I’m more comfortable making the changes once I have the photos, maybe it’s more about me than Audrey forgetting. Maybe I’m more afraid of forgetting myself. The photos feel like security.
I took pictures quickly of our front door, entryway, the table there, the photo above it of the three of us, the little hall to the kitchen with the washer/dryer, the kitchen, and Audrey’s room before dinner. I took photos of the rooms from a distance, from up on a chair, and I took close-ups of the refrigerator door with the things Audrey had made you for Father’s Day still up there, and even opened cabinets and drawers and took photos of what’s inside. I put Audrey’s changing pad back on her dresser because already I don’t change her there anymore, but you did until you left.
These are things people ordinarily don’t take photos of, but I can already imagine Audrey looking through them when she’s much older, interested in the home she most likely will forget most of, if not all of. As I took them, it all felt like the past already. But rather than a symptom of obsessively hanging on to the past, taking the photos is freeing me up to make changes and move things around as Audrey grows and we make this a little more homey. As long as I have the photos, I feel a certain security. All I have to do is look at them and remember.
I’ve been thinking a lot about whether it’s easier or harder to have a loved one die the way you did so suddenly- versus a long illness. Initially, I thought it better this way because you didn’t ever suffer, nor did I have to watch the one I love so much in pain. The huge, huge, downside though, is that we didn’t have any time for any last words or preparation for the end of our life together- the end of your life on earth. This makes the grieving process that much harder and more complex…so much unsaid.
I know that in the end, both ways suck.
Still, every night I look around at our bedroom and the emptiness and ask, “Is this really it?” I think earlier I liked to imagine I had all kinds of signs pointing to this climactic end, but in reality, I didn’t see this coming- not at all. The signs were there, but they were not for then, but for now. So that now, I can look back and know that someone- certainly not you or me Dan- but someone, did know this was coming.