Saturdays are the worst- I tell the concierge earlier. It is such a long day for some reason…a family day. Audrey and I go to Target where we run into the elderly Chinese widow from across the hall. I suppose Target is what people like us do on a Saturday. If I’d known our common destination, I would’ve given her a ride so she didn’t have to take the bus. After Target, we busy ourselves with the little projects I come up with – she is decorating an “I’m Bored” box with stickers and drawings- inside are photos of her playing with every possible toy/activity we have that I’ve just developed in Target. Then we go outside so she ride her tricycle around the building. We run into another family headed out to congratulate someone on a new baby. Then another family- loading up their car, leaves a small doll behind in front of the building- I run after them with it and hand it to the grateful father. So many families- busy doing family things. I feel a strange sort of shame and embarrassment walking around the building by ourselves.
It’s a shame that I’m in the middle of making a huge decision right now- buying a home- because I can’t seem to focus on anything else besides the fact that I haven’t you seen you in almost two years.
My stare is vacant throughout the day. My eyes tear quickly. It’s the death march leading up to that one day.
I hate to assign the day that much meaning- I hate to honor it and prefer to honor you and the life you lived- but it approaches- and I can’t help that it is physically, strongly felt as if my cells are chatting about it.
Since I’m starting to get that this approach will be just as difficult as last year- only this year I have a lot less support- I’m trying to remember the things I did last year- the preparations I made for the survival mode I knew I’d be in: buying a big stack of paper plates, some quick frozen meals, basically being extra kind to myself, and planning on the low-energy that accompanies these weeks and days. This year though, I’m in the middle of buying my first home, and working through a “summer fun” bucket list with Audrey. How to balance all of this.
My body is forcing me to slow down at least. If I try to ignore it, I’m plagued by migraines and chronic pain.
Last year I planned a memorial service with a program I had printed up, sent out a tasteful invitation, made lists of plans with friends, and released balloons. I even planned a lunch afterwards at a restaurant, and another event in the evening in the city at an Irish pub you used to play at. This year I have no idea how I did that, and I feel no direction, no sense of what should be done. What I do understand, as one widow friend put it, is that this grief is ours alone. We are the ones whose lives are irrevocably altered. So I don’t see a crowd of people this year- and if I did, I’m not even sure who they’d be. This tragedy has greatly altered my friendships and the people I share my life with are mostly a few people I didn’t know before you died.
For now, everything in me is slowly shutting down in sadness and self-preservation, like stocking up on groceries, and boarding up the windows before a bad storm except without the nervous busyness of all that. It’s just the quiet anticipation that comes after.
I feel that same shame/embarassment wandering around in public on weekends – everyone with their partners or family. I hesitated to go out to a coffee shop yesterday, thinking – the only people in there will be the ones without families.
And, my year two anniversary was similar – the first year, there was an event, and people around. Year two was very quiet. Now it's a bit of an internal game I'm playing, wondering who if anyone will acknowledge or remember. I'm betting on a lot of after-the-fact "so sorry I forgot." Maybe not. It's a strange balance. I don't want a lot of attention from people who aren't in touch any other day of the year.
You and I will share being inside year two for just a few days.
You will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers as you go through another anniversary. So many virtual hugs to you and your daughter.
The "shame"…I have felt it though I'm not sure I could've put the words to it or even actually realized what feeling I was experiencing until looking back in retrospect. Thank you for bringing this up, it's something I think must be common to us widows but rarely acknowledged.