I’m having one of those moments, right now, at this very moment, where I am absolutely winded with disorientation. With the fact that you lived here, with me, were my husband and Audrey’s father, and our life was “normal,” and now it’s not and I haven’t seen you in a long time and you don’t live here and you’ve been gone for just about a third of Audrey’s life.
Two weeks ago I was sitting at church and before the service began, I saw a husband come in and hand his wife a cup of coffee. Then I watched her so casually receive the cup as he passed it to her, not making eye contact or saying a word to him, placing it down beside her feet, her child between them. I envied her very, very much. I have thought about this image for two weeks. A cup of coffee passed to a woman from her husband, so absolutely lovely in its casualness.
I had this too.
Please women, do not call yourself any form of “widow” when your husband’s away or at a conference. This is not the proper use of the term, and yet people do this on Facebook quite often. I even heard a Susan Vega song the other day in the car with the refrain: “Call me a widow boys” about her relationship troubles. No, no no.
Sometimes I open your sock drawer and take out an old watch- a watch you got from McDonald’s for a couple of bucks with a meal. This was like you and you wore it for at least a year straight. Homer Simpson is on the watch eating a burger and says “Mmmm, burgers,” when you press the button. Can I tell you how pissed I am that this watch still works and you’re dead? Still, I press it a few times standing there at the open drawer, “mmm…burgers.”
Time doesn’t heal, but it blurs. I realize lately I am having trouble determining before and after. Did I have that basket of books in her room when he was alive? I ask myself? Did we go there or did I have that thought or conversation with him or was this afterwards and with someone else? It is getting harder to tell. And that is difficult to take in. Not healing. Difficult.
I’ve been having nerve pain down my left leg for some time now and just wanted to ignore it, but recently it’s become quite debilitating and I see it as a wake up call that I need to start taking care of myself more for Audrey’s sake. I’m fairly certain I’ll need an MRI. I had two MRI’s a few years back when I tore the hip joint in the same leg. The first time, I had to ask to be taken out of the tube because I am quite claustrophobic and I accidentally opened my eyes for just one second and saw the round machine wall an inch from my face. “Please, please, I need to come out,” I told the technician.
So, the second time I went to a different facility with a more open MRI, but still I had to go in the tube. The main difference I think was, you were there. The technician gave me headphones and I chose the Beatles as my music genre so I didn’t hear all the noise the machine makes as much. But she also gave me glasses or a headband- I can’t quite remember which- that had a mirror so I could look into it and see you standing behind the plastic window smiling and waving at me. I’ve been thinking about this memory a lot lately. I’ve said it before in other posts I think, but it’s not the occasions- the birthdays, the anniversaries, that you grip onto when the person’s gone from this world- it’s the moments like this one- where you’re in a dark place, but together just the same. And then, well, you make it through.
Discovering you’re really dead, on the other hand, is more like my first MRI experience. It’s like in order to live, the part of me that knows this must be closed, shut down, for most of the day, but every now and then, I open my eyes, and see that wall right in front of me and realize exactly where I am.
take me out of here.
Beautifully written Julia, as always.
I get terrible moments of 'claustrophobia' about my life without JS. I know that I have to live it, that any other option really isn't an option, but that doesn't prevent the feeling of the walls closing in and the suffocation of the situation.
Your final words are spot on.
HB from PG xx
"absolutely winded with disorientation"
The imagery is vivid and goes straight to my heart.
"Can I tell you how pissed I am that this watch still works and you're dead?"
"she also gave me glasses or a headband … that had a mirror so I could look into it and see you standing behind the plastic window smiling and waving at me."