Sometime after your funeral, I read that when someone dies suddenly, what one really needs to say is, Thank you
I love you
I looked back on my own tribute that I spoke at your funeral and realized I had hit all of these. They are important.
And the past few months I’ve been stuck on the I’m sorry. I think of things- little and big – that I wish I could apologize for or had…but I can’t. So I scribble them on post-its or whatever piece of paper is available at that moment. They’re everywhere now. Tonight I have summoned the strength to gather them up. There are probably millions more, but here is what I have from eleven years.
It’s a personal, honest apology- but I think there is some value in others reading it. Take note, you may not have tomorrow to say you’re sorry.
Dan- I’m sorry. I think most of what I did was out of love- though I didn’t express it that well. Some of it was pure sinful selfishness- being human at its finest.
I’m sorry for asking you to look through the garbage for the pink doll from Audrey’s dollhouse. She turned up a month or so later under the oven, but you willingly dove in searching for her.
I’m sorry when we first got married I wrote Bruce Hornsby an email telling him about my amazing cellist husband and embarrassed you. (He actually wrote back!)
I’m sorry I didn’t take Audrey to the last show we could’ve seen together in Chicago. I was just a nervous new mother not sure of how I would navigate around her nap schedules etc. I wish we’d gone.
I’m sorry I didn’t go watch the World Cup game with you a few days before you left. Instead I really wanted to go take a ride on this silly tall ship temporarily docked near our apartment. You went to watch the game and Audrey and I took the ship ride. When we came back to shore, you were there waiting, in your “Be the Reds” shirt. We waved and I was so happy and surprised to see you. The Korean team had lost. I wish we’d all watched your last Korean game together.
I’m sorry I was always complaining that you ate too much or ate too quickly. After I’d been cooking for an hour, you’d eat everything in five minutes, never leaving me with any leftovers. I know food was an important way I should’ve loved you. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t like the last Mother’s Day gift you bought me- the paper rose necklace from Etsy. You had it sent while you were away and mostly I was upset by the handwritten note, written by someone else- the woman who made it-, telling me what a great mother I was. I wanted you to be home that day. I’m sorry I accidentally broke it trying to figure out how to wear all of the strands that loop around. You said you thought it’d look pretty on me. I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t like the geese painting entitled “Learning” with the mother and baby goose you bought for Audrey when you were on tour in the Fall of 2009. I read the back how the artist had committed suicide at a young age and saw something dark in it- that’s why. I’m sorry. It’s framed and hanging in Audrey’s room now.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you get PS3 or a television. I thought it’d help us both to focus on our crafts if we didn’t have a television. Plus I thought it’d be better for Audrey.
I’m sorry I complained about how you tied back the curtain.
I’m sorry for making you move your desk with your music equipment twice because I was going for a minimalist look in our bedroom.
I’m sorry I accidentally put nutmeg in your oatmeal instead of cinnamon one morning, and I generally made you eat oatmeal even though you said it made you nauseous.
I’m sorry when you cut your leg while helping me move from my apartment in Washington Heights I said you were being a baby, but later I saw the wound and until the day you died, you had a scar.
I’m sorry we fought so late into the night when I lived in Washington Heights and as a result, you went home late and were attacked and stabbed in the subway.
I’m sorry sometimes I’d playfully press your nose and say beep. “Ouch, that hurts!” you said.
I’m sorry I tickled you so much.
I’m sorry I’d chase your toes under the blanket with my cold toes.
I’m sorry I asked you so many questions during movies and could never follow complicated story lines asking you, “Wait, I’m confused- what’s going on?”
I’m sorry I got so crazy and stressed before vacations packing and cleaning and also anytime before we had guests over.
I’m sorry I didn’t always rinse my plate off and you food got stuck on and you were the dishwasher.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you drink soda.
I’m sorry I didn’t let you get a tattoo.
I’m sorry I complained about our hotel bathroom in Quebec City because online it had looked really luxurious and then it was just normal. You took a picture of me sitting on the bed looking sad and disappointed. A funny, funny picture we laughed at often.
I’m sorry my pms was so dreadful you knew my monthly schedule better than I did.
I’m sorry I told you to write resumes for music jobs when we first got married when that wasn’t how the music industry worked at all and you knew it.
I’m sorry I didn’t come meet you in Korea after your Asia tour last spring. You would’ve gotten to see your dad meet Audrey- instead he met her at the funeral. I just didn’t think I could handle that long of a flight with her by myself and then deal with car seats, cribs, etc once I got there.
I’m sorry we threw out your guitar when we had the bed bugs. “It’s perfectly good,” I can still hear you saying to yourself. It wasn’t anything special, but you loved that guitar. I did too.
I’m sorry at some point I got kind of tired of telling others the story of how we met. I used to love telling it and I don’t know what happened. Now I do again…that’s not fair.
I’m sorry when we fought and you said, “You know you’re hard on me right?” I never said, “Yeah, sorry.” Well, maybe a few times I did.
I’m sorry I put vinegar in big open bowls in the built in cabinets in Park Slope. I read it gets rid of musty odors, but instead our clothes smelled like vinegar.
I’m sorry you didn’t like the strong peppermint smell of my latest hand lotion but I would put it on and wave my hands at you at night in bed just the same.
I’m sorry about my tone. You always told me it wasn’t the words I was saying, but my tone.
I’m sorry I was so insistent on having the tag of the duvet cover on the bottom right hand side of the bed and told you that was the rule. I made that up.
I’m sorry for punching you when you snored really loudly at night and yelling, “roll over to your side please!”
I’m sorry for complaining that you never put your socks in the hamper.
I’m sorry about the long debate we got into about why I felt dirtier the second day if I took my shower at night rather than in the morning.
I’m sorry I said you ruined the “perfect shot” on the Easter train of Audrey and the Easter bunny because you lifted her in front of the bunny.
I’m sorry for talking to you or telling you what to say when you were on the phone with someone else, “Oh don’t forget to ask them…” That always bothered you.
I’m sorry I always had tissues up my sleeves and often forgot and put them in the washer in my clothes and they wound up in the dryer- all the little pieces.
I’m sorry I told you I already took a library magnet when you brought one home from the library. Then I told you to bring it back because I didn’t want the clutter and you said you’d leave it on some vending machine and I didn’t get that idea at all.
I’m sorry I didn’t get why you were saying “Super Party Poo poo” when you lifted Audrey up on your legs like superman. I have since discovered why in an old journal of yours. Why didn’t you tell me?
I’m sorry about the shattered glass- both times- the time in our Bay Ridge apartment with the picture frame. I didn’t want you to carry it downstairs because I was afraid you’d get cut…and when you dropped the glass tray in our new microwave when we were moving into this place and glass shattered everywhere. I was just so worried about Audrey. My mom said as long as you were OK that was the main thing. Yeah, that was the main thing.
I’m sorry I said onions and mushrooms had no nutritional value when we were first dating and they were the only vegetables you ate. They do. I was wrong.
I’m sorry I never ironed and when I did, I seemed to make things more wrinkled than when I started.
I’m sorry for making you eat dried apricots after I read they fought prostate cancer in men- even though you said you really didn’t like them.
I’m sorry for packing an uncooked broccoli calzone in your lunch sometime before you left. I forgot that I froze it before cooking it and you wouldn’t be able to just mic it at work. When you told me you’d thrown it out, I was so mad, but then later you explained that it looked kinda funny and I realized. We laughed, but I’m sorry Dan.
I’m sorry for putting popcorn kernels that I’d tried to chew but couldn’t, back in the popcorn bowl- all wet and soggy- sometimes you’d pick one up and say “Gross!”
I’m sorry I complained that the pajamas you got me last Christmas while on tour weren’t cotton and would be uncomfortable. I’m wearing them right now.
I’m sorry for freaking out some days when I couldn’t find anything to wear.
I’m sorry I got too “crazy” for you sometimes- and sang Broadway style jokingly which you loathed.
I’m sorry for making you watch that really, really bad Kirk Cameron movie with a theme about Christian marriage and sticking it out. Oh that was bad.
I’m sorry for yelling at you right after I’d given birth when I sat down too hard on the sitz bath you’d prepared for me on the toilet and the water splashed everywhere- I misjudged the distance- it was my fault.
I’m sorry for blaming you when you came home when night while I was writing an article- finally starting one – and felt I was on a roll and that you’d interrupted my creative flow. You were never to blame for my lack of creative motivation. That was all me.
I’m sorry I said we should get the “kangaroo” cart when we lived in Brooklyn- for shopping and laundry- that little extra pouch in the front kept hitting our legs as we pulled it. “You just haaad to get the kangaroo,” you’d say jokingly.
I’m sorry for buying a fake orchid that time. “Tacky,” you said. It was- we sold it at the stoop sale.
I’m sorry for telling you that you were running down the cordless vacuum battery.
I’m sorry for being so overly sensitive to criticism when we recorded our music album together.
I’m sorry I made fun of you for always going straight to the comics when we went to the library.
I’m sorry I always yelled at you for always ruining the most sentimental parts of the movies for me by making fake crying sounds loudly.
I’m sorry Daniel Haewan Cho.
Please forgive me.
This tells the story of a beautiful, well-lived, life together…never something to apologize for. Oh, and the Kirk Cameron movie- it WAS awful…we had to turn it off. Couldn't finish it- LOL!
Oh Julia. This made me cry, then laugh out loud, then cry even more. I am so sorry you had to write this, but also so proud of you.
Oh dear…. What a load you have been carrying around, Julia. I can only imagine Dan reading/sensing all this now and shaking his head, laughing, and telling you none of that means a thing compared to the love you shared.
This particular post provides perspective to me, in an abundant manner, as a wife & mother, but of course, can be no consolation to yourself. Can I wish you blessings and tell you how sorry I am for your loss at the same time? B/c your words are clearly something we need. You speak of the veil and even tho I haven't gone thru the horrific loss in which you are immersed, when you speak of such things, you communicate articulately across the chasm. Sorry, I can't phrase it better than that. I will try to be less prideful…
This is such a wonderful post. I cried and laughed… Thank you, thank you.