I’ll leave behind the constant view out our windows- the one you said looked like the scene of an Indie movie while the opening credits were playing. I’ll leave behind the scene of Audrey’s first crawl, first steps, jump, and many attempts at skipping.
I’ll leave behind our mutual complaints of the cigar smoke and noise from the upstairs neighbor- the security guard who works here and was chosen to come verify that there really was a smell of smoke because of the insane management of our building – who came and said he did not smell anything. The one you loathed thereafter and was referred to simply as “no frickin’ sense of smell…” by us when we drove into the complex and he sat in the little booth. I still do this when I see him.
I leave behind the day of our move here – when the heat didn’t work and we had to leave with our five month old daughter and go back to sleep at my parents’ house one more night.
The first night we slept on our new IKEA mattress on the floor.
I leave behind the spot we last slept together – wedding photo framed above the bed in the brown frame you chose for the photo you enhanced – the one your friend took of us on the church steps, kissing while friends and family blow little bubbles around us- you made it sepia and blurred the people around us, keeping only us in focus.
I’ll leave behind the spots where I took the photos of Audrey every month in the same dress until her first year birthday- and the bedroom I stayed up in until 2 am for a week making dozens of tissue paper pom poms for that party so that when you came home from traveling the night before you thought I was crazy. I leave behind our first real Christmas tree- our only Christmas morning alone as a family. The floor where you played “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” music on your keyboard and a 15 month old Audrey danced and called your name softly as she did then, “Ba,” and placed her hand on your shoulder. An Easter morning egg hunt with those little slips of paper you drew pictures on and wrote sweet notes for her inside a few of the eggs. You carrying in my breakfast on Mother’s Day. Us sitting together as a family around our kitchen table having homemade waffles with heart-shaped strawberries on your last Father’s Day.
I’ll leave behind the place where you laid down and lifted Audrey on your legs and flew her back and forth- and the space where you tossed her up in the air so that in the photos both of you are just a joyful blur.
I leave behind the chair and the spot that Audrey and I still refer to at the kitchen table as “Appa’s chair.” I leave behind your desk- which I am quite doubtful I will have put back together mostly for lack of space, but also because… I leave behind the chair you picked out to go with it which Audrey and I also still refer to as Appa’s chair- the one that had one of your shirts hanging around it when you died that still smelled strongly of you and is now in a sealed bag in the closet. The one you sat in nightly when you were home looking for work, contacting music industry people- scratching your head, bouncing your knee. The desk that is now dusty, and the chair where I sat crying those wretched sounds the day after- listening to your music and roaming through your computer as if I could find you there.
I leave behind the pencil marks you made when you installed the safety locks in the bathroom, the toilet seats you installed, the kitchen sink you stood in front of washing our dishes, the bathroom mirror we stood in front of flossing or brushing our teeth looking at the other’s reflection. The one where one night I said I wanted to have a little space in there and you said, “You can’t wait until I leave…” The mirror in which I wrote “Audrey and mommy love Appa” on it after my shower, to which you left a reply the next time you showered, “Appa loves Audrey and mommy.”
I leave behind the sound of the bus brakes bringing you home- the possibility of seeing you step off of the bus. I leave behind Audrey in her blue and red sundress and white flower clip as we waited to greet you that night only weeks before- and you were so happy and said you felt so lucky to get off the bus and be greeted by both of us.
I also leave behind the bus stop going the other direction across the street- the one I’d strain to see you walk away to on the mornings when you worked- the one I strained to see you and your cello standing inside the small shelter in- sometimes while we still spoke on our cell phones saying just one more thing.
I’ll leave behind the farewell toast at the party I threw you in May of 2010 and the toast I recently made at the two year memorial with friends here, “We love you and we miss you…cheers.”
I’ll leave behind the sound of the doorknob to our bedroom turning as you came in at 11 or 12 midnight…trying to be as quiet as possible and not wake Audrey. I’ll leave behind the image I have of you with backpack on back, releasing a great big sigh after a long day of work- to which I jumped out of bed and embraced you saying only “tough day.”
I will leave behind the spot where we argued and I spoke the words, “Let’s resolve this when you get back.” And the spot where we last said goodbye- did we embrace? The spot by the door where I told Audrey you’d be back soon. The spot I walked away from in tears moments later. The spot where you returned to put your keys back in the drawer of the entryway table moments later, “I won’t need these.” I didn’t even see you- only heard your voice. The spot where I rolled in your suitcase- afterwards. Where I opened the envelope that came in the mail with your wallet, phone, wedding band.
And I Will Leave Behind the steps to the counter where my cell phone was. The wet bathing suit. The spot where I first screamed. The shower where I collapsed and keened so that I thought my body could not withstand the force. The hole from the tack that held your tour schedule- the one we’d looked at that morning and counted the days together until you’d be back. I leave all of this behind.
I am so sorry Julia. That's a whole life left behind. It's beyond tragic.
Word and amen.
No words for this one. Just that I am so very sorry. I love you, my dear friend!
You captured it all here, and you carry it all in your heart. Wishing you courage and strength.
What would Dan advise if he were here? How would he wish for you to handle this grief? Perhaps this answer will lead you forward with courage and a smile.