I may seem accustomed to the words, “My husband passed away…” “Her father died,” though I still usually follow it with “a few months ago,” instead of seven months ago.
The other night I finally listened to the last voicemail messages you had left me- on my old cell phone- the ones a friend with a recording studio helped me to capture on disc before I shut down that service.
I was afraid to hear your voice say goodbye to me again. I braced myself.
I slid the disc into the computer and listened to the messages…”Hey Jul, it’s me…I’m at the airport, about to- we’re getting ready to get on the plane- just wanted to see…how you’re doin…k…I love you…bye.” “Hey Jul it’s Dan, just wanted to see how you’re doin and how Audrey’s doin…k bye- love you.”
I record the “just wanted to see…how you’re doing…k…I love you…bye” into the teddy bear I bought for myself. I squeeze it a lot to hear you say those words to me…that goodbye that we didn’t get to say.
I keep the tears at bay pretty much all day now, but usually something sets it off by late afternoon. It’s not uncommon for Audrey to come find me in my room in a daze with tears on my face. I wipe them away and respond to her questions and singing as normally as I can. “What do you have there!?” “Sure, I’ll come see what you built!” It is a breath-taking dichotomy.
But once she’s asleep- I sit in disbelief again- staring at your chair. Understanding and not understanding at all- simultaneously.
That was then, this is now. I can’t escape this reality- this dimension. I’m trapped. So I have no choice but to go on…and hope is the only accompaniment that will make it even feasible.
I had to tell another old friend/coworker of yours today that you were dead. I saw a message from her on your FB account and replied, “Daniel, my husband, tragically passed away in July. Feel free to email me as I don’t really check this anymore.” And she did, and she was in disbelief.
There is some kind of eery excitement I feel when I break the news like this. Because I think, there is and was someone, and there are probably others- for whom you still exist in the world.
I imagine that for most people, busy with daily life- there is an assumption that I must be quite accustomed to those words, “My husband died,” by now- or that I must be getting the hang of this thing…but even if I seem calm, or even if I’m sending out sympathy thank you’s or busy choosing a preschool for my daughter- don’t be fooled. I am not accustomed. I can’t comprehend that I will never see your face again…because it’s buried under the ground. I am not accustomed.