It feels dark like winter’s dusk which feels darker than dusk in summer.
This week feels like limping down the church aisle to see your body lying there. I stood outside of the church with your mom waiting for your brothers and father to look at you first. But I caught a glimpse of you lying there from outside. I trembled. I was hoping you would look like you- only sleeping- this is not death. You did not- not at all.
But this week- heading towards your birthday- your 34th birthday- feels like the walk down that aisle that followed…being supported on both sides by friends…crying out…
Maybe this is the holidays that everyone talks about…but it is dark.
I have a real tree up which Audrey loves. So different just one year ago when I decorated it. I am playing the same Christmas music I played then, only I remember feeling joy while I got the tree ready with Audrey last year while you were away. I remember feeling happiness and excitement at our first real tree- and our first Christmas in our own home as a family of three. This year it is as the rest of life is now- robotic with a forced smile. Checking off the list for the sake of my child.
Yesterday when I went to download some of the Christmas music from your computer I found a mix you had made for Audrey called “Audrey Kitchen Table Mix”- for her little MP3 player we kept there for her. I listened to a few of the songs. I listened for what you heard when you chose them. I listened in your chair where you sat.
Most of the time the question in my mind that I want to ask others is, “Is this real? Am I awake? Is this really happening?” And sometimes now when I’m alone I say it to myself, “This is really happening!” in a terrified voice.
I just don’t know what to do with my worst fear happening. I just don’t get what life is like after that. You worry about it, you fear it, but in a way you think if you worry- it won’t happen. You think it’s the “worst” so you’ll be able to handle the other trials that do happen. But this…in a way I never could have expected- I’m not sure what to do with.
There is so much less mystery now- five months into this. So much less protection around me. It is not you- Regina Spektor’s cellist- who “reportedly drowns in Lake Geneva.” It is just…”you” dancho…mucho macho…haewan…haey…hey you…you. You died.
“I didn’t get to say goodbye…i didn’t get to say goodbye…i didn’t get to say goodbye…” I repeat as I look into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror last night before brushing my teeth. It turns into a song…my eyes are bloodshot and different. I don’t know who I’m looking at.
I see you each night beside me flossing your teeth. This is what you see when your spouse dies…moments like this…common moments.
And all the time now, I see not just you- but I see all three of us. When I take the ferry into the city on Mondays- I look to the walking path from our building back on the shore- and I see all three of us- walking…we’re pushing Audrey in the stroller. I see it so clearly…my family. Maybe we’re really there…maybe time is just in our minds. Time is just change- nothing more. Change is breaking down/mortality. A friend forwarded me an interesting article on time- and a new study that shows just that- it may not exist. It hurt my brain to read it, but it was hopeful. There is definitely something strange about time isn’t there? something offputting…not beautiful. It’s like we try to capture life in photo albums and videos because it’s constantly slipping out of our fingers. From the moment we’re born we are dying aren’t we?
Audrey woke up at 6 am this morning screaming about her play kitchen utensils- must have been dreaming- but I couldn’t fall back asleep afterwards- and for the first time- I saw your dead body. I had completely blocked it out and even if I tried to picture it, I just saw you alive sleeping. But I caught just a glimpse- so it must be in my brain somewhere. I hope I don’t catch it again.
I created a photo calendar of photos you took of Brooklyn for your birthday and linked to it on Facebook so others could order one of they wanted to. You were such a good photographer. We both enjoyed taking photos- even with our cheap camera- we were always handing it back and forth to take photos and then when we saw them arguing over who took the good ones. “Oh you took this one,” I’d say jokingly if it wasn’t good. But actually you were great. So I put this together as a way to remember you each month- as a way to carry just a part of you into 2011 with me. You never thought you wouldn’t be here – did you? You never thought this. You wouldn’t imagine it Dan. You just couldn’t believe it.
My faith wanes.
This week I also plan on going through the hundreds of memorial letters I received ( I requested them to create a book for Audrey) around the time of your death. I will choose a compilation of the most beautiful things people said about you and post it on your birthday.
You see, I can’t stop loving you. It’s like when we first fell in love and both of us had this unbelievable, relentless amount of energy to create things for each other. I have that now…again.
It is lonely.