Sometimes you write with hope and strength because you know that makes everyone feel better and provides a much more satisfying read, but also because… you are hopeful.
Sometimes you lay down a blanket on a cemetery plot and picnic and surprise yourself with virtually tear-free eyes for the bulk of that time.
Sometimes you believe it’s because you must be getting stronger, or at least getting better at this whole thing. When all of life’s cruelty stares you down, you hold your gaze. “Game on…I’m ready!” you say in a crazy voice as your daughter asks what you’re talking about. You’re not sure.
But then sometimes you are blindsided. You check your rearview mirror, your side mirrors, but you smoothly change lanes- right into another speeding vehicle…and crash. There’s always that blind spot. It’s where sorrow hides out now.
Because sometimes, even though you know you shouldn’t, you imagine again just for a second what you might have been doing if things had been “otherwise.” You might have been one of “them”- the families posting pics of family vacations, new babies, siblings posing together in cute outfits, or happy anniversary wishes for your spouse. What your family might have looked like. What indescribable pain you would’ve been spared…without even knowing you had veered so close- “only as one escaping through the flames…”
And you sometimes, let yourself imagine for a few moments, what it would be like if he walked into the apartment, into the room right now. How you would make the most lovely and tearful introductions between him and his daughter- a different person really than she was back then. How even amidst his foreignness to her, she would know what a joyful event it was- her innocence might be restored…the landscape of life a little more beautiful and good to her- a little less fragile and dangerous. How would you look at her, with such awe, pride, you are crying now…she is shy, but she understands. You hold her- all is forgotten…all of the pain, all of these days, weeks, months. years. Maybe that is how it will be one day. “We’re not in heaven now,” she says to me the other day out of nowhere. “Nope, we’re not.”
And sometimes you google his name and read the death announcements you read on all of those online news sites, and you find yourself clicking on that memorial video some fan made and you see him playing the cello- all at once familiar and new. And you can’t believe it. And you ask him, “What the f— Dan? What the f—?”
And you cry. And you are overwhelmed by the force of it- like the final pangs of labor when it’s time to push. You are overwhelmed by all of life ahead of you- by all of the decisions to be made, all of the tasks to be accomplished, all of the nights alone ahead. Sometimes, after so much “progress” and so much pushing, at least for one night, while you have a few moments, you come undone.
I believe there will come a time when you won't have to fight this terrible longing every day, every night. You're not there yet. And you won't ever have the *particular* sort of happy ending you wanted with Dan but you may have other happiness. Meanwhile, be easy with yourself. No one (well, at least not your readers here) expects ANYTHING of you; we don't want you to be falsely cheerful or hopeful when you really aren't. We just want to walk quietly by you on this journey when you invite us to. Saying a prayer for you and Audrey….
I am so terribly sorry, Julia. I don't know what to say. It is all so unfair and sucky and overwhelming. I want you to know that I am thinking about you and hoping for bigger blind spot mirrors in your future.