It was an uplifting weekend for the most part. We had a couple of invitations for Saturday for a change, and that was nice. We got to get together with someone I know through this blog- a lovely woman and a friend- in the city where we walked around St. John the Divine, and looked for the peacocks that live there, with our daughters. In the evening, we had dinner with neighbors and two other couples- both who knew Dan. The dinner was delicious and Audrey always has fun playing with their boys. At one point I opened the door to the room where they were playing and heard her practically screaming at one of them, “I just wanna say!- that I really love you!” and then upon seeing me, tilting her chin down and smiling shyly.
So, for the most part, it was a nice time and I felt very thankful. But life will be a series of “for the most parts,” I’m afraid- (and probably is for everyone). But specifically with your loss, there will always be those moments- the ones where I’m supposed to be out having a normal night- eating steak and drinking wine with friends- when I suddenly feel the pinch of your loss like a herniated disc pressing on the nerve. One of the couples knew you from many years ago at the church you used to attend but I’ve never met them. I wonder to myself if you liked them- what you would’ve told me about them. We talk about basketball and I am dying to know if you’d be rooting for the Knicks and Jeremy Lin or the Celtics since you were a Boston fan. I listen to the couples discuss preschools in the city and letters of acceptance and have a hard time thinking this is important. And mostly, I am aware- that everyone there is together- and I am alone. And I am acutely aware, when we leave and I come home, tuck our daughter in, and go to bed myself.
On Sunday we go to my parents after church. I want to watch some of the game- but it is so strange without you. I hear you saying, “Paul Pierce- his nickname is …” ” But I can’t remember what it is and you’re not there to tell me. I google it…oh yeah, “The Truth.” You really liked saying that for some reason. I see you so clearly in my mind coming down the hall in that daze where I can’t get your attention- staring at the TV. This imagining is so real to me- it’s hard to snap out of it and tempting to stay there.
Yesterday I took all of the tax information I’d gathered for the accountant to the copy store after dropping Audrey off, and, quite humorously actually, my bag fell out of the car when I opened the door, all of the tax papers in the stack blew away- under my car, etc. After I got on my hands and knees to retrieve them- luckily the wind stayed calm for a few minutes- I went inside and attempted to make copies- the copier jammed again and again while I tried to follow the instructions and open the machine up and clear it… and finally a Staples employee came to help, “Wow, you’re a trooper,” he says, “I thought, ‘She’s gonna call me over now…but you didn’t!’ A trooper- that’s me- I think. I later realize I’m missing a few pages and head outside to find them- with tire marks on them- but found nonetheless. And for the first time, I see my yearly income on this document- and it’s startling. But only money.
The other papers I am copying is a small stack I am sending along with thank you notes to the medical examiner in Switzerland who recently shipped your sample- a woman at the American Embassy who has been helpful, and two nurses/lab technicians here in the States. I could’ve sent a simple thank you note, but why lose another opportunity to tell the story- a griever will not do this. So I also sent the post from my blog that was published in the Times parenting blog, a page of excerpts from the memorial letters written about Dan, and a photo card that I had made with three photos- one of Dan, one of the three of us, and one of just Audrey and I and the words, “Thank You.” I wanted each of these people who never knew you, and yet became an intimate part of your story- to know you were a real person- and a wonderful one. And- to know that you were missed each day by someone.
I ask the guy at Staples to make these copies on nicer cream resume paper, and I can tell when he rings me up- that he’s read the gist of it. I can just tell. “You take care now…” he says after I pay. After Audrey’s in bed, I cut pieces of gray card stock and write the thank you’s on that, place the photo card on top of that and tape it together with gray Japanese washi tape. It’s a pretty package. I talk outloud to myself while I try to package them up as quickly as I can because it is not a task I enjoy. “You just keep trying to make this mess pretty don’t you?” But I cannot.
Instead, I feel depleted. Even as I looked for stationary supplies, every drawer I look in, every place I look, I see things from our life together. I can’t escape it. Everything was “ours.” There are pens you got from your job, erasers you brought from Korea, leftover pieces of paper from the tree mural we made before Audrey was born. There is honestly, no thing- no object, that isn’t connected. They may seem like small things- but each one screams of a reality that now feels like a dreamworld.
My cries are long – so that I start to feel like I’m having an asthma attack and can’t catch my breath. I crave comfort- but there is none. Every now and then I allow myself to catch just a sliver of hopelessness…cosmic aloneness.
Today is Tuesday, the sixth. I skip to seven on our perpetual calendar and head to the Post Office to mail those envelopes after dropping Audrey off. “Oh, Switzerland, not Sweden,” says the woman at the post office after she accidentally inputs Sweden as the address while weighing them. “Yup.” I remember how I also had mistakenly told your brother and everyone that you’d died in Sweden that first day- I was so confused.
A friend asks via chat if she can call me last night right in the middle of the cosmic aloneness- and I tell her no- “but I’m OK- I’ll regroup tomorrow”…time to regroup.