There are things that I think I will write about: a trip to the DMV to remove your name from the title in the rain in a line wrapped around the building outside…”What sucks even more is the reason I’m here is because my car got stolen and my license was in the car…” the young guy ahead of me in line tells me. “Oh, that does suck.” and how I recall when we went to get our Jersey licenses not even two years before, seeing a middle-aged woman with her husband’s death certificate and her daughter…and thinking, “how sad.”
There is an “incident” in the bath tub where Audrey puts her feet over her head the way she often does outside of the bath, but it forces her under the water. She is unable to regain her balance and pull herself out. I grab her but in that few seconds, I see her eyes wide open, in terror, under the water looking at me.
There is a phone conversation I have last night with yet another young widow three years out. Her husband suffered a heart attack the day after their second child, a daughter, was born. She was recovering in the hospital when her five year old son called to tell her he couldn’t wake up his dad.
I think about writing about all of these things in great details while they’re happening because it helps me get through the moment to already be transforming them in my mind into words. Just words. But then later, it’s too overwhelming.
Grief is less of a state, and more of a milieu that surrounds you.
And at this one year mark- it will be one year since I said goodbye to you this Tuesday- I am helpless to explain this milieu.
Elliptical orbit catches me in the eclipse. it’s like i’m in the shadow of last year. watching.
Our last date together- this past Friday, one year ago. I took the bus to Port Authority just like I did so many times on years of dates. There you were. I was happy to see you and you took my hand and led me through the rush hour crowd. I commented on how glad I was I didn’t have to do this anymore. You lead me down a few streets to a surprise destination you booked for dinner before our friend’s play. We sit outside at Bryant Park Grill. You come back from the restroom and I secretly admire how wonderful you look to me, as always. How happy I am to see you heading toward our table, walking the way you do, giving me a small smile. We share a dessert. I don’t remember anymore what it was. But just that it was good. I think it had raspberries. Is this how forgetting will be.
There is the tall ship Audrey and I took a ride on what would’ve been yesterday, there it was docked in the harbor again while we walk yesterday by the river. just like last year- giving tours. I walk all the way down the pier and the guys who run it give me a schedule. “Remember we took a ride on this ship last year Audrey?” The ship we came back to the marina on and found you waving to us wearing your red “Be the Reds” t-shirt, waving happily at us, even though Korea had just lost in the World Cup. You helped me get the stroller and Audrey off the ship and I was happy to have you take over. Today was your last Sunday at church with us. As a family. Tomorrow was our day at the park where we road the train and asked the woman behind us to take the picture of the three of us. It was hot and we got in an argument about driving. We ate BLT’s I’d made that morning at Whole Foods. Audrey and I waited in the dentist’s office while you got your teeth cleaned- because, I said, you should really have your teeth cleaned every six months. And we’re paying so much for this insurance. Two cavities. You’ll get them filled when you get back. she falls asleep on the car ride home- you’re sitting in the back with her. We don’t talk. I ask you to run in to Target and pick up paper towels and toilet paper- the big stuff that’s hard for me to do when you’re away. Your last dinner at home…tilapia with chopped tomatoes and cucumber marinade in lime juice, with pasta with corn and tomato and butter sauce on the side. Then you packed.
Tuesday morning- goodbye. See you in three weeks.
I stare at the hole from the tack in the kitchen wall where I hung your tour schedule- the one I ripped down on July 6th and threw in the trash – it looks larger lately.
My words to you, “I don’t want to be a pregnant widow,” haunt me. I know where i sat while I said them (right here where I am right now) and I see the look on your face when it came out of my mouth, surprising us both. “What? You think something’s going to happen to me?” “I don’t know…” Yes, I do. Yes, I do.
I hear the phone ring, I dance around Audrey in the narrow hallway to get it; I’m irritated because I can’t get past her- “It’s probably Appa!”
I hear the violinist’s voice, “Are you driving?” “Can you sit down?”
I look at all of the people we know on Facebook and all of the people I’ve ever known and they’re all still alive. This doesn’t seem fair. He’s still alive…oh she’s still alive…
I think about all of the many different worlds there are- because there are. There is the widow world I know now. The one where message boards are busy in the evening- and on weekends- with subjects like, “When does the pain end?” and “I’m at 8 months and it got worse…” There are other worlds- hospital worlds where people wait on vinyl chairs in waiting rooms for little girls and boys to finish their chemo for the day. Aged in nursing homes and the overweight homeless man sitting on a bus bench with me last Thursday- eating chocolate cake, cursing and with a large egg shaped bump protruding from his head. I would suggest that the world we’re mostly presented with as the one we’re aiming for- is just an illusion-a world concocted by ad execs and politicians. The real world is a marble with all of these in miniature and all of these are the world.
I wish I did not have to grieve for you, literally for you. But how do I know if you’ve gotten to do that or not? So I grieve in your stead- for all you’ve lost. For how you’ve left us.
A milieu, a climate, a setting.
for this world.
trying to fit into to-do lists and one year markers- to be where one should be.
people continue to talk to me about it- ask me how I’m doing. it must be true, it must be real. this is how i know when i doubt.
the horror does come back. it is heavy and keeps me up at night.