Unexpectedly tough day- which is always worse than the days that are expectedly so.
It’s been lonely lately- I think for both of us. Audrey’s imaginary friends who faded to the background after she started preschool are prominent again. Her ballet class and yoga class ended and we’ve lost our rhythm for a bit. It’s funny- similarly to how I’ve felt about God- not angry just questioning his existence- I question friendships a lot lately- not because I’m angry but because I’m not sure who they are anymore or if I had all the great friends I thought I did in the first place. My circle definitely feels like it has shrunk since you died. It’s hard to tell whether it’s partly because I’m a mom now since that was still new, or because we had also moved fairly recently from the city. But it certainly seems like when you were alive we had a full schedule with different things, gatherings, events going on all the time. Now we don’t. Maybe other families want to guard their own family time or maybe they think we’ll feel sad being amongst another family- but it’s hard coming up with things for us to do each and every day when it’s just the two of us. Your absence is so present all the time. Even for Audrey…for whom I wonder what that must feel like- the absence of someone, something- a father- that you aren’t used to having anymore or can’t remember- but you still feel. A vague absence probably- felt mostly when she sees other fathers interacting with their children or when I bring you up. This morning she talks at breakfast about that vivid dream she had of you again…only this time it meshes with an identical new dream she tells me where Cinderella is the one who is in the playroom waiting to read with her, but when she comes in, she disappears. She stops talking and just stares at me after this word…disappears. Heartsink. I remember so clearly the sound of her screams that night when I found her, “I wanna play with appa NOW!” One of my lowest moments since all this began.
I try to fill our days. It’s tiring taking a three year old to weekend family events by yourself. After church today we go out to a Korean restaurant- the same one where we all ate lunch after your one year memorial. I try to get Audrey’s soondooboo to cool down, but it takes forever. We sit on the same side of the large booth they placed us in and I stare at the empty other side of the booth. The next booth behind that is a family of three- mother, little girl, father. I give Audrey some crayons and finish up my own soondooboo so we can go. When we get up, the waitress from your memorial lunch we had in a room there recognizes me. I’d told her it was your memorial because I wanted to pay for it but sneaky people were trying to intercept the bill. “Oh…it’s you,” she says. “Your husband…how are you doing?” And unfortunately that’s all it takes sometimes. I can’t really speak and my eyes are full and overflowing and then I answer, “The best I can, she’s getting so big right?” pointing to Audrey. She gives me a hug and we leave.
Later I realize it’s the Superbowl and think of parties we attended and which team you would be rooting for. I tell Audrey we’re having a Superbowl party and put it on on our tiny TV while we have a spaghetti and meatball picnic at our small Korean table on the living room floor. I think of how I’d always predict which team was going to win, mostly in basketball, and tell you I could tell because of the “energy” but you kind of believed me- that was funny. I realize later that tomorrow is the sixth of the month. Ah- maybe that’s why today was so hard. I do laundry and find that I’ve left a tissue in the wash. You always hated that and reprimanded me for not checking carefully enough or for keeping tissues up my sleeves (something my third grade teacher told us was a good idea and it stuck). Little wet, white pieces of tissue stuck on all the clothes as I throw them into the dryer…and I miss you so. “Yup- I left a tissue in Dan,” I say.
Yesterday Audrey and I were decorating a cardboard fairy house we made and in going through some art supplies, I thought some felt squares might be useful. I open up a Ziploc full of a rainbow of colored felt squares. And then I see them- the leftover squares from shapes that you’d cut out for the felt board I was so into around the time you died. It was one of my projects that had great vision, but my end result didn’t work out. Nonetheless, since you were much more artistic than me, I had asked you to cut out some shapes for the board. You did. An airplane. A bird. A sun or moon. A few other things I am forgetting. Those felt pieces I’m pretty sure I’d put away earlier on in a special place with things for Audrey…but these leftover scraps- these pieces, I’d forgotten.
These hurt more. I couldn’t believe how much they hurt. There were the marks where you’d cut along with scissors. Where you removed your work and gave it to our baby. Remnants, scraps, a picture of this great absence- both vague and sharp- on rainbow colored felt.