Today a lot of things came to mind that we will never get to do together. I think in the beginning, you are so overwhelmed that of course, it’s all over- you won’t get to do anything…it’s horrible and a nightmare and you can’t stand it- that you don’t focus on the smaller specifics. But now I do. I mention something about Hawaii to Audrey and remember how you’d never been and we planned to stop there on our next trip to Korea. “Wow, we won’t get to do that.” Another layer. I think about taking Audrey to an art museum in the city and remember how, since she was born, we wanted to do that together. “We’ll take her to MOMA,” you’d said. But we never got there. I had that vision so clearly in my mind. When I was younger, I used to think I could kind of prophecy by what I could see in my mind. “Oh, I can’t imagine that happening…” so it probably won’t. Or, “I can see us there, looking at paintings,” of course we’ll get there. That whole trend of vision boards and the secret- a total lie. You do not create by envisioning. Yes, that’s a step of creation- but we are simply not our own creator- the creator of our lives- though post-modern philosophy will try to convince you otherwise.
Speaking of vision boards, January 2009, I thought you and I should create a collage of things we hoped for. So we did. I tore off one side of a diaper box and we cut out and pasted down things that we hoped for. The difference between us was always so apparent when we did creative work together. I was in a hurry to pick out pictures and get to the end result of the vision board- even though I’d initially had a beautiful vision for the vision board- in the end, I was hasty with my choices. Yours, on the other hand, were beautiful photos. You wouldn’t settle for the cheesy ones. I think on my side I had a photo of a book- maybe one day I thought, I’d like to write a book. I also had a photo of a group of friends, a microphone for singing, and a Craftsman style house- I had wanted a real home for so long. On yours you had a photo of a recording studio, a photo of friends clinking beers around a table, and photos of faraway places- you wanted to travel. There was also a photo of a family- I remember- laughing. All of this was before you go the touring gig. You were still stuck in your office job – one reason I thought i’d be a good idea to do the board.
We kept that vision board around for quite a while, but there was no good place to put it and aesthetically, it wasn’t fitting my minimalist decorating goal at the time. I asked you if I could throw it out. “But that was supposed to mean something,” you said. I was surprised. You said you’d keep it by your desk and you did. But then eventually I think I won out. It’s gone. I don’t know if I mind. I think it’d be upsetting to see it all in hardcopy right in front of me- all of the dreams, plans, visions laid before me in magazine pictures.
The other thing I realize today as I drive home from a farm and a visit with a cousin and her little girl- is how much I am already growing and changing without you. I want to meet you at home and tell you about my day- how Audrey fed goats and bunnies-but how she was scared of the pigs biting her fingers, but I won’t be doing that. I will experience and grow and become a different person. If I try to hold on to you by staying the same, I will still change-but I will become bitter and ill. I’m not just different from the woman who was here when you left on June 29th, 2010. “Bye…see you in a few weeks…” But I am also, I realize, growing into a very different person than the person I would’ve grown into had I been growing with you. I will turn into a different woman than I would’ve grown into had you stayed here with us…had you and I grown old together as we’d planned.
As I drive home, I hold onto hope and remember the feeling I had the first few days…a feeling that I was the one who had been left and abandoned. That I was alone now in this world of plastic and matter and that you had gone on to the next part. I wasn’t thinking clear enough then to be thinking theologically at all, so this wasn’t an intellectual thought process at all- it was a feeling I try to articulate now. It was a feeling that I was still waiting and you had finished and surpassed me and that was unfair. In the days following, my sole concern would be for you – were you OK? But in those initial hours, I knew you were fine. You’d gotten to go on. I was still here and this filled me with dread. But I hold on to this because in those early days- even amidst shock and numbness- there seemed to a spiritual sharpness and clarity unlike any I’d ever known.
When I get home, I get the mail. I see another letter- a fourth- from the nonprofit in Switzerland billing me $3000 for your helicopter “rescue.” A few weeks ago I took it upon myself to write them a letter asking them to please dismiss this bill immediately. I am about to eagerly tear into the envelope. I brace myself…but then I stop. I pray- for one of the first times.
“We have received your letter. The invoice is cancelled.”