How do you measure two years?
Two years of saying goodbye.
Of wanting to wake up from a bad dream.
Of hovering somewhere just outside of my physical body- watching all this.
Two years. A few changed light bulbs. A couple of bottles of shampoo. Lots of bags of trash taken out. Meals made, eaten, tossed. Two years- not enough time to figure out how to cook just enough for myself and a preschooler.
Two years. A first jump, sentence, first “I love you,” first song, first hop, first skip. First day of school, first graduation, two birthday parties. Potty-training. A crib to a big girl bed to our bed. Monster nightmares and princess dresses. Disneyland. Several trips to the Dr. for checkups and colds. And before you know it, she has been alive longer without you, than she was with you. I am glad I wasn’t paying attention and missed that milestone.
Two years- the time it takes for her to start to “get this.” Less time remaining before I have to “explain” what happened, why we visit that hill in the cemetery.
Two years. It is now “years.” Plural. I keep saying at today’s memorial, “He wrote that song a couple of years ago,” but then I quickly realize you’ve been gone a “couple of years…” so I need to backtrack a couple of years from a couple of years to be correct.
Two years. Of elevator dings down the hall. Of little shifting noises, shadows in the house that make me look to hear your key turn in the door. Two years of hearing your bus pull up and watching people get off. Two years until I finally saw someone with a similar walk to yours. I strained and watched with every cell of my body…pretending.
Two years of trips to the library and countless books on children and grief, grieving, death, dying, life after death, heaven, biographies on loss. I read in a book on grief recently that just as your body grows in spurts as a child and it takes your brain a little bit of time to catch up, so it takes your brain a long while to catch up with the loss. Two years of catching up.
Of sitting and staring at your desk. Visualizing you there with your knee bouncing, hand on chin. Two years of trying to check…how much do I remember? His hand in mine…the tiny brown and black hairs that grew over his lip…the feel of his sideburns or how they looked after he cut them himself. His toes at the end of the bed, his voice saying my name, “Hey Jul.”
Two years means it’s the Euro; two more years until the World Cup again- the first in over a decade when I will not witness your excitement over this event.
Two years- of not seeing your fingers touch piano keys or lay across the neck of the cello. Or brush your teeth. Or floss. Or trim your finger nails. Wash the dishes, take my purse or bags from me to carry.
Of not going out on “dates:” to eat dinner with you, or watch a movie with you. Not squeeze your hand in church after we pray, or tease you or be teased.
Two years. Still having the protective plastic coating on your (my) iPhone.
Of thinking that maybe I could still receive a message from you on Facebook, an email, or even a phone call- when it rings and no one says anything at first. I assume. For just a second. Or two.
Two years. Visits to the cemetery. Of the worst thing I never could have imagined.
Now it is the third year of your absence.