A melange of joyful, ash-tinged, ironic moments.
Audrey watching a children’s program where the day’s message is that we don’t have to fear when our parents drop us off at school because they’ll come back later to get us. The repeating tune to accompany the message sings, “Grow-oh nups…come back!” I watch Audrey carefully as she watches wondering if it even occurs to her. “Mommy always comes back to get you at preschool right?” I ask her. Looking content and satisfied she shakes her head yes. The cheery refrain is only ironic to me. (Except when your dad drowns in Switzerland)- I think. But she- she doesn’t remember standing in the hall saying goodbye- doesn’t recall you telling her that you’d be back in a few weeks. I’m glad she won’t carry this with her. I’m afraid I do.
The move brought something both sought after and feared: continuity.
You- me, us, Audrey- this really happened to those people. Most of the time, I am able to speak about my life because I feel no real connection to the tragic string as mine- ours. The sorting through, moving of belongings, new home and sense of homelessness – has finally changed that.
More saying goodbye.
A friend’s husband comes over after dinner to take Audrey out for ice cream. I peer out the curtains to see him carrying her to the car and hear her little voice faintly chatting away. Deep sobs. I will never see you carry her like this. She is limited to a few hours every few months with this kind of attention. All she is missing out on. All you have missed. I don’t visit those thoughts often.
After he leaves, she spends almost 30 minutes drawing a picture of the three of us…he is in yellow, with a large jack-o lantern-eque smile. We are in brown and green.
I dream a few weeks ago that I need to sing a certain song in front of an audience, but cannot remember the words. It is a song I heard playing on the radio at Duane Reade a week or so after you died and felt you were speaking to me. Last night I dream I am holding you- hugging you- trying to explain how much I love you and how I don’t want you to go. You don’t seem to know about our impending separation. Audrey wakes up yesterday at 6 am crying and upset because she dreamt I got married, “I don’t want you to get married…I want it to be just us like I’m used to!” she cries out. I assure her I have no such plans.
The effects of the hurricane are still apparent where we live- long gas lines, people without power strewn about in Starbucks – one guy carrying an entire printer in yesterday morning. Though I am incredibly grateful that our home was virtually unaffected and sorrowful for those who lost so much- the hurricane brought others into the surreal realm I inhabit. The feeling of pushing through every day because you have no choice- the discomfort-…the fear that Lewis says grief feels so much like. It felt like I had company for a few days.
I think about how the early days and even year or so of grieving a sudden loss are kind of like being in the eye of a hurricane. While you’re aware that the wreckage and tumult is all around you, while rogue waves toss and saturate the space you huddle in- you feel enclosed, protected from daily life concerns- finances, relationships, social graces. In some ways, you feel untouchable. But just as they warn not to go outside to examine the damage during the eye of a storm lest you be caught up in the eyewall just beyond it- the eyewall comes in grief too. In fact, it’s just the beginning.