For the past week or so, I have completely lost track of the days. I have to think really hard to remember what day it is. Today is Monday, July 4th.
Last year the 4th was a Sunday. I dressed Audrey in a blue and white dress you’d picked out for her for Easter and tied a red ribbon around one of her hair clips. We went to church. I wore a white v-neck t-shirt and charcoal skirt- both I’d purchased the day before with my mom after sleeping over my parents’ house. I was eager to show you the new clothes I’d bought when you came back. In church that day, I’m not sure why, but one of the parents in the nursery was snapping polaroids of everyone and giving it to them. So, I took home a mini polaroid of me holding Audrey, smiling. I think it is the last photo I have of us together before. I’ve had it taped on a cabinet in my kitchen ever since and I often look closely at my expression, my smile. It is innocent and completely ignorant of what is to come. I think I even see pride and arrogance in there too.
After church, we went to Trader Joe’s. It was hard coming up with things to do on “family” holiday weekends when you were away, but I tried to keep busy. And now it’s the same, but very, very different. We had fun though shopping and then a salesgirl came and said we could look for “Petey the Parrot” and Audrey would get a prize. I was a woman on a mission. We found Petey in the bread section and Audrey got a red lollipop. I took pictures of her enjoying it while still sitting in the shopping cart in the parking lot. This was the kind of small thing you don’t really bother telling friends or other family- but I couldn’t wait to tell you.
At night, Audrey was giving me a hard time sleeping, so I gave up and decided she and I would watch the NYC fireworks on the Hudson together from our balcony. It’s not close, but near enough that it’s pretty. The air was so thick and humid that night that I had to force myself to stay outside and watch them. “Boo!” she kept saying because she wanted more blue fireworks for some reason. I missed you deeply that night and wrote you a nonchalant email about how we had watched them together. You wished, you replied, a day before your death- that you had seen them with us. “Did she like them?” you wanted to know.
I guess those fireworks will be going off in another hour. Audrey’s asleep this year and I’m exhausted.
It seems like I should reach some new level of comprehension of your death as I near one year in two days. But I don’t. What I find is that still, it’s not the holidays or special occasions, but most mundane of acts that secrete the Truth. The way you banged the kitchen sink strainer into the garbage every night after washing dishes. “You shook this strainer like I am now,” I think when I do it each night. That is when I catch a glimpse of what has happened.
And I think, these days, that death must be otherworldly. I know it’s supposed to be a part of the “circle of life” and nature, but then why, why, would it be so damn hard to comprehend. Why would my dear husband’s shell of a body appear not natural- but hideous and horrifying? Sleeping – that is natural. So I am beginning to discern reprehensible death instead, as evidence of a supernatural world- something beyond our natural world – a curse, a sentence from a battle long ago.